PW Annex Reviews
The Middle Passage and the fall of Saigon: two terrible events, separated by centuries, with seemingly nothing in common. But for Bouwman (The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap) anything is possible, including the existence of a second world. It's 1978 there: 12-year-old Kinchen leaves her island home to save her younger brother, Pip, after he is taken to Raftworld, the vividly described floating nation of descendants of enslaved Africans brought there 200 years prior via the aquatic magic of a girl named Venus and her brother, Swimmer. On Earth, meanwhile, Thanh and his older sister, Sang, are on a motorized rowboat in the South China Sea, having escaped South Vietnam only to travel through a magical doorway to the second world—the same door the Raft King kidnapped Pip in order to find. Through the captivating interwoven tales of these three sibling pairs—and with assistance from Shimizu's powerful ink illustrations—Bouwman crafts a moving narrative about family, magic, morality, the power of storytelling, and the cyclical nature of history. Ages 10–up. Author's agent: Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly Annex.