The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee. Dial, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-525-55545-2
In this sly fable by Agee (Life on Mars), a tall brick wall runs along the book’s gutter, and the action takes place on either side. On the verso, a short, perky knight approaches the wall with a ladder. On the recto, a menacing-looking tiger and rhino lurk. “The wall protects this side of the book” the knight explains, “from the other side of the book.” The contrast between the knight’s cheery, confiding tone and the outsize dangers supply hilarity, and blocky images in faded hues soften potentially scary moments. As the animals flee, the knight’s side of the wall starts to fill up with water. “The most dangerous thing on the other side of the book is the ogre,” the knight says from his ladder, oblivious to the deepening flood, finger raised in emphasis. Enter the ogre—uh oh. As ever, Agee nails pacing and punch lines, making inventive use of the famous fourth wall as a literary device (and giving the book a new wall altogether). Most satisfying is his gentle reminder that preconceived notions about things and people, over a boundary or otherwise, are often distinctly wrong. Ages 4–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
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