8 by Eight: The Other Side

9780399231162The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis, is one of those perfect picture books. The story begins, “That summer the fence that stretched through our town seemed bigger. We lived in a yellow house on one side of it. White people lived on the other. And Mama said, ‘Don’t climb over that fence when you play’. She said it wasn’t safe”. Clover wonders about the fence. Who put it there. What it means. And why it keeps her away from Annie, on the other side. Although the fence divides them, Clover and Annie start to develop a friendship. They meet in the middle and eventually cross the divide. The ripple effect their small actions have on the community is both heartwarming and inspiring. This story has something important to say about fences, and children, and courage, but it says all of these things quietly, letting the reader slowly absorb the message, rather than forcing it. Like the narrative, the illustrations are subtle and inviting. Each image convey the sun, possibilities, and eternal fun of childhood summers. Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, if you haven’t seen this book in a while, definitely look for it on our 8 by Eight display. It is not to be missed.

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