On the Edge of the World

On the Edge of the World cover
On the Edge of the World by Anna Desnitskaya. Translated from the Russian by Lena Traer

By Anna Desnitskaya
Translated from the Russian by Lena Traer
U.S. edition: Eerdmans, 2023
40 pages

Ages 7-10

Vera lives on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, with the Pacific Ocean stretching out beyond the coast. “My mom says we’re on the real edge of the world.” Lucas lives with his family in a small town on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Chile. “It’s the real edge of the world!” his grandmother tells him. In a book comprised of two separate stories that start at each end and meet in the middle, Vera (white) and Lucas (Latine) reveal their “most valuable things,” how they spend (or want) to spend their time, and also their loneliness: Each longs for a friend. Both children sometimes end the day at the beach near their respective homes, using Morse Code to send out a flashlight signal:  “Hi, I’m Vera.” “Hi, I’m Lucas.” The two stories are connected by a series of pages showing the span across the ocean that their two signals must travel to reach the other, which is surely an impossibility, and yet ….   Whether it’s the magic of storytelling or something else that sees this impossibility become a reality is one of many things readers can ponder in this full-hearted work beautifully grounded in the lives of two contemporary children living continents apart. Marvelous details conveyed through text and illustrations reveal many parallels and some contrasts between Vera’s and Lucas’s lives. The distinct, artful style and clean lines of the digital illustrations, which include a map and Morse Code on the endpapers, add to the book’s appeal.  ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center