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To the Other Side

Erika Meza

Hachette Children's Group (3+) 9781444971781 (Paperback)

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A story that follows two refugee children on a journey to seek out safety.  They turn this dangerous journey into a game, which brings the relationship between the two siblings sharply into focus.   Along the way, the children encounter others playing the game too, but the journey is difficult and dangerous, and they must be careful not to be spotted by monsters.  Even when the game loses its initial appeal, the pair must find a way to carry on together.

The use of colours Is thoughtful and pops against the white background, providing moments of light and hope despite the perilous nature of the pair’s journey. There is a strong synergy between text and illustration. Empathy is built from following the characters as they progress through their travels. Deep meanings and layers can be discovered through the use of repeated motifs like the fences which are threatening and menacing. Composition is striking and there’s high contrast between the greyscale illustration and the brightly coloured masks and the flowers and drawings towards the close of the story.  Inky shadowy creatures represent the fears and potential dangers faced in an effective and almost nightmarish way and leave readers feeling they too have made this treacherous journey.

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Erika Meza

Erika was born in Mexico and developed a taste for eclairs in Paris before moving to the UK to teach drawing. She won a scholarship to study in L’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, where she learned to combine bold colour and mark-making with poetry. When Erika isn’t drawing you’ll find her plotting ways to teach her cat to play the piano.

Shadowers' reviews and artwork

The book and its illustrations are a great way to get people to understand what refugees have to go through. The illustrations and use of masks in the book, remind me of the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico and I think that's where the children are fleeing from and going to America. The illustrations throughout the book are mainly black and white, dull and dreary, representing the fear and darkness they are trying to escape from. The mix of colour and grey is very good at projecting hope through out the book, there is still hope for the two children on their journey. There's rather a lot of symbolism in the illustrations for example, whenever they are fleeing the monsters on the train, the monsters capturing some of the children's companions, seems to say they might have died or been killed by the threat on the journey. There's a pattern of lines repeated throughout the story from the front cover to the back and it seems to symbolise barriers that they are trying to escape. The illustrations captured the tense feeling of the book by portraying the monsters as almost inescapable, having them hidden throughout the illustrations, taking over houses, capturing people and every time they think they've escaped them, they come back again catching up on them. I had to reread the book a few times to fully grasp the symbolism of the illustrations. I would recommend this book, it is a very powerful book and the illustrations are instantly eye catching.

Rosellen

Rebel Readers

This book's illustrations really put the reader into the protagonists perspective, and really draws you into the story. I loved the mix of black and grey illustrations with coloured images. The monster drawings were really creepy, even though I knew they weren't real. There is hope at the end but the elder sister is still unsure they are actually safe because she is still holding on to her mask unlike her brother who is completly assured and is not wearing his mask at the end.

Rosellen

Rebel Readers

To the Other Side is an amazing book with a fascinating story to tell. On the front cover it may seem like a colourful children’s book but when you take a look inside it’s a whole lot different. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger children; mainly because of the pictures inside. It tells the story of a young boy and his sister escaping from monsters. The monsters aren’t real - they represent the dangers that refugees face in their countries. I give it 5 stars *****

Jacqueline

St James Hatcham Book Club