On the Edge of the World

In this cleverly formatted children’s picture book, author and illustrator Anna Desnitskaya captures the lives and dreams of two lonely children from opposite sides of the world who long for friendship and understanding.

When young readers open the cover of one side of the book, they’ll meet Vera. She lives on the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, a place that her mother refers to as the edge of the world. When Vera was younger, she was confused by her mother’s description of their home. But her mother explained that the earth is round and if she left the Kamchatka Peninsula and sailed across the Pacific Ocean for a long time, she would finally arrive in a country like Chile.

Flip the book over and that side is a portal into the life of Lucas. He used to live in Santiago, Chile, but now he lives in a small town along the coast. His grandmother thinks Lucas’s new home is at the edge of the world. However, Lucas understands that the earth is round and that if he sailed across the Pacific Ocean, he could eventually reach a country like Russia.

Vera and Lucas have much in common. Both own items and books they value. Both imagine having a friend who can join them in playing soccer or in burying secret treasure. Both have learned how to use Morse code, a series of dots and dashes to communicate information over long distances.

One night, they each stand on the shore of their coastal home and shine a flashlight into the darkness. In a whimsical, joyful conclusion to On the Edge of the World, Vera and Lucas make a miraculous connection as their flashlights’ beams travel past ocean liners, fishing boats, orcas, and more till messages are delivered: “Hi, I’m Vera.” “Hi, I’m Lucas.”

In a world where so many obstacles divide individuals and nations, Desnitskaya’s story and art reflect the biblical truth that all people are made in the image of God and he desires shalom to characterize their relationships. Christian parents and caregivers who share this book with children might use it as a springboard to talk about the commonalities between all God’s children, no matter where they live. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

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