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DON'T CROSS THE LINE! by Isabel Minhós Martins


by Isabel Minhós Martins ; illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho ; translated by Daniel Hahn

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-776570-74-4
Publisher: Gecko Press

An armed guard stands in the gutter of the book, refusing passage to the other side no matter how much the growing crowd pleads.

The story opens to a vast, blank, double-page spread, except for a lone, white guard and a tiny dog. A page turn reveals a white person walking into view from the left. As that person attempts to enter the recto page, the guard yells a ferocious “STOP!” When pressed for a reason, the guard simply says, “My general reserves the right to keep the page blank, so he can join the story whenever he feels like it.” More people (and creatures) come as the pages turn, until the left-hand side is packed. When a red ball innocently bounces across the border, everyone freezes. The guard allows two children to retrieve the ball, and suddenly the floodgates open. The crowd swarms across. When Gen. Alcazar sees the disobeying mob, he tries to arrest the guard, but the crowd overthrows him. This abstract tale can be read many ways. A musing on order versus disorder, tyranny and revolution, or perhaps the most prevalent of late—immigration. Childlike illustrations in colorful marker and comical hidden identities (a certain extraterrestrial really wants to cross to make a phone call) lighten the tone. The endpapers show the entire cast of characters (the humans mostly white), which adds an element of seek-and-find as well.

The takeaway is an important one: peaceful questioning of authority can lead to quiet revolution. (Picture book. 4-8)