cover image To the Other Side

To the Other Side

Erika Meza. HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-0630-7316-6

This powerful solo work by Meza (Mariana and Her Familia) follows two unaccompanied, Latinx-cued children heading for the U.S.-Mexico border. As they start out, an older sister explains to the child narrator that “the rules of the game are simple”: if they avoid monsters, evade capture, and keep moving, she says, they’ll win “when we cross the line.” Wearing colorfully rendered masks to “hide us. Make us fast. Make us brave,” the siblings leave their home, portrayed in the ink-gray of the book’s landscapes, to set out along a blossoming path bright with blooms. Soon, however, skeletal shadow-creatures threaten, as the children cross rivers and ride atop train boxcars. Dispirited (“this game was too long. Too tiring. Too hard”), the narrator at last realizes the reality of the situation, and perseveres as the duo approach, and cross, the border into a new set of experiences. Accompanying simple language that foregrounds a child’s observations amid heightened danger are gouache, marker, and digital illustrations that layer pink, purple, and orange flowers and masks against ink-black bleeds and a repeating barred motif that represents myriad threats. It’s a realistic but hopeful look at two children’s emigration. An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. Agent: Claire Cartey, Holroyde Cartey. (Mar.)