There are some lines that exist for good reason, then there are others that are outright unjust and ridiculous. When the latter becomes law—“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” —Thomas Jefferson.
I’ve wanted to—no—in all truth, I’ve been desperate to read this book since seeing it. Don’t Cross the Line! by Isabel Minhós Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho, published by @gecko_press, is a work of art. A beautiful creation that is entertaining to read. It calls attention to injustice and peaceful revolution, power of the people, cleverly utilising the elements of the book to assist the story, and does all of this in a risible manner.
The cover and title page introduces us to General Alcazar, an angry dictator. He demands that The Guard not let anyone cross the line—the gutter of the book. A dog joins the guard in the white space. He sniffs along the boundary of the page. A man strolls in and is about to cross that line when he’s screamed at. “STOP!” More people enter the scene, a lot more. They’re all just trying to go about their day, but they’re restricted to the verso page. Emotions rise. A ball bounces across the line, and the two boys that have been playing with it ask if they can retrieve it. The guard allows it, and—everyone spills over the gutter. General Alcazar arrives on horseback and army in tow. He’s furious, but the people have a hero, they have their freedom and won’t be contained, held back, or restricted.
Each of the 63 characters are given importance. Endpapers tell their names and we can follow their stories with every turn of the page. The brightly coloured illustrations are revolutionary. They’re scribbled yet skilful. Silly yet serious. Together with the amusing speech-bubbled storyline, they create a multifaceted gem—a book that can be read many different ways, multiple times, and is bound to appeal to a vast number of people, young and old.