Book of the Month: November 2020

Hello. How are you, all? Apart from the never-stopping virus, I guess the US election is on many people’s mind right now. If you like it or not, the result of the election will have a big impact on us wherever you are. According to the Guardian, the outcome on 3 November will be “the most consequential in history”. So, to emphasise the importance of voting, I thought I’d share something political this month. Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts would be a good candidate for this month’s pick, but I decided to go with a book about dictatorship and democracy. It’s Don’t Cross The Line!, written by Isabel Minhós Martins and illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho (Gecko Press 2016).

The story is very simple. It opens with the General ordering his guard not to let anyone cross onto the right-hand page.

So the guard stops people as they come from the left side of the book and try to cross the page gutter.

As the pages turn, the left pages gradually get crowded with people. Restricted their freedom of movement with no reasonable explanation, people are frustrated and the tension builds up. Then, a catalyst to change happens…

Listening to people’s frustration, the guard let people through. But with no time, the General finds out that the guard didn’t follow his order and order to arrest the guard.

Then an amazing thing happens – la révolution! People stand up for the guard (“He’s our hero!”) and storm across the page to the out of the book, leaving the General in defeat.

I love the simplicity of the format and story of this book. It’s simple yet packed with funny details and humour. Carvalho‘s illustration is bright and full of child-like energy. Each characters has personality and the book has Where’s Wally-like charm. Every time you read, you find new details. I also like the way these characters are self-aware (“We’re part of this story too, you know…”).

Don’t Cross The Line! illustrates the power of democracy and the importance of making our voice heard. If you can explain something so complex like politics to kids with simplicity and humour and teach them the importance of their voices, I’d say you have done one of the most important jobs.

Lastly, good luck to you, America! Vote and make your voice heard!

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