Friday, July 20, 2018

The city on the other side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson

The story begins with a tragic war between Seelie and Unseelie, battling over a dangerous necklace and the depredations of humans. But the war does not only affect the fairy affects the other side as well.

In the human world, Isabel lives like a shadow. She feels unnoticed by her mother, except to be scolded into proper ladylike behavior. When she is sent to spend the summer with her distracted, artist father, she at first hopes to have more of a life, but quickly finds things are just as awkward. Wandering into the forest at night, she comes across a strange creature, wounded and dying. The Seelie messenger gives Isabel a necklace and suddenly she is transported to a magical - and dangerous - world.

There she will make new friends and enemies, including another human, a Filipino boy named Benjie. Isabel will discover that she is capable of more as she finally has the chance to explore her inner strength and risk everything to keep her promise to the dying Seelie. Along the way, readers will pick up clues to the identify of Isabel’s city - San Francisco, after the great earthquake - as well as exploring the complex, beautiful, and deadly world of faerie.

The art is lovely, presenting a huge range of varied Seelie and Unseelie creatures, never making them attempt to appear like humans and yet keeping them from looking grotesque. Isabel is a sturdy girl with shoulder-length brown hair and brown skin, apparently of Hispanic heritage. Benjie refers to his Filipino roots, explaining that he was left behind in the earthquake after his parents died because he was Filipino.

Verdict: While most young readers probably won’t pick up on the historical references, at least until they read the extra end comic about the historical research behind the book, they are sure to devour the exciting and beautifully-drawn story. Hand this to fans of Amulet and Zita the Spacegirl.

ISBN: 9781250152558; Published 2018 by First Second; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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