cover image Until the Day Arrives

Until the Day Arrives

Ana Maria Machado, trans. from the Portuguese by Jane Springer. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-55498-455-8

Machado’s (From Another World) finely sketched characters and settings propel this historical novel, set in the early 17th century, which follows two orphaned siblings from Lisbon to colonial Brazil. After losing their family to the plague, the siblings end up in Lisbon, where older brother Bento gets imprisoned following a bar fight, forcing 11-year-old Manu to find him. Once they are reunited, Bento’s arrest leads to his exile in Brazil, and the siblings embark on a harrowing journey. A deeply affecting parallel story line follows the capture of an entire African village, during which 11-year-old Odjiji and his family are forced onto a slave ship. Bento and Manu’s arrival in Brazil is particularly powerful, as they realize that the beautiful, bustling docks are home to the ugliness of a brutal slave market. Interconnected relationships between the siblings and slaves highlight the cruelty and unfairness of the system, especially as Bento falls in love with a slave and Manu becomes dear friends with one. This brief but action-packed novel offers memorable insights into slavery, colonial life, and the promise of freedom. Ages 10–13. (Nov.)