Don’t Cross the Line! by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho

510c-tzk86l Don’t Cross the Line! by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho. Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Gecko Press, 2016.  9781776570744

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A soldier stands guard, alone, near the gutter of the left hand page.  The right hand page is blank. When a man approaches the guard, wanting to cross to the other page, the guard tells him that no one is allowed to cross the line to the right-hand page, because the general wants it blank so he can enter the story whenever he feels like it. More people enter the page from the left and it gets crowded. Everyone is wondering what the problem is. For half of the book, the right hand page is blank, while more and more people enter the left hand page. Then, two boys playing soccer lose their ball and it bounces onto the right hand page. Everyone watches as the boys ask the guard permission to retrieve the ball, and the guard says, “OK, over you go. Just this once …” More and more people cross the line. Then the general appears, and he is irate. When he demands that the guard be arrested, the crowd indignantly cries, “No way! He’s our hero!” So, I have basically told the story. But what you must see for yourself is the progression of people, from one page opening to the next, going about their business, making comments about the happenings, all with unique pictorial traits. Since there is a cast of characters on the endpapers, including the author and illustrator, one can search and find them from one page to the next. Although a mature reader will see that this is a parable about authority and resistance, the younger reader will enjoy finding and identifying the characters, who are all named. The brightly colored naive cartoons are masterful and funny and seem to be rendered in marker.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Points off for having a mostly white cast of characters, although there is one green family too.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Emberley’s Drummer Hoff Fired it Off comes to mind for the political nature of the text, combined with the whimsical cast of characters.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: February 9, 2017

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