other side of town

The Other Side of Town by Jon Agee

A New York taxi driver picks up a rather odd passenger who asks to be taken to Schmeeker Street on the other side of town.  They reach a dead end, but that is not the other side of town yet.  The man pulls out a remote control and the dead end opens into a tunnel, the Finkon Tunnel.  The tunnel leads to a maze of ramps that twist and turn, ending in spotholes.  The driver tries to avoid them, but accidentally drives into one of the large black holes from which they are dumped onto Schmeeker Street.  Suddenly everything is pink and green, just like the man.  Finally, they reach his destination but the cabbie is caught on the other side of town until he notices the remote control left in the back seat.  But yet another surprise is waiting for him when he gets home!

Agee plays with our expectations with a great sense of fun in this book.  Renaming landmarks into something very similar but yet strange and different was a great choice.  The tone is entirely one of silliness and laughter with just enough being different and zany to make it clear that the other side of town is unlike anywhere readers have ever been.  It is through this that Agee subtly demonstrates that there are paths to cultural acceptance for those who are different from us.

The color palette of the other side of town also plays a large role in the story.  Immediately readers will see the little man as unusual thanks to his pink plume and green bodysuit.  When the story moves to the other side of town, the cabbie suddenly pops in his pale blue against all of the pink and green.

Funny, silly and a treat, take a visit to the other side of the town!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.