To the Other Side

Meza tells a story of two refugee children that is both timely and appropriate. The subtle interplay between text and image allows for a realistic but sensitive reading of what is happening here. The first line reads: ‘The rules of the game are simple. Avoid the monsters, don’t get caught, and keep moving.’ The young boy soon declares he is tired of the game, but his older sister urges him on until he realises … this is not a game.

Stunningly illustrated, there is a nuanced tension between black and white and colour in the book. Shadowy images symbolise threats and dangers of home and migration, while spotty use of colour represents a scattered childhood, brightly masking the faces of nameless, countless migrating children. Children ride on top of moving train cars, sleep in caves, run and hide. Shadowy monsters are hot on their heels and lie just ahead, indicating the instability and danger of the journey.

This book will encourage empathy in those readers who experience welcoming refugee children into their schools and their lives. Meza shows us the exhausting and terrifying realities for children fleeing unliveable conditions at home, yet incredibly, this book offers hope when the boy and his sister cross the invisible line to safety. The book both starts and ends in colour. Worth celebrating is the two-page illustration of the siblings and their new friend in a colourful playground, where the boy tells the friend: ‘The rules of the game are simple …’

Book Cover - To the Other Side
Publication Date
March 2023