Mona and Bird witness something terrible from their treetop perches and suddenly life changes forever.On this side of the sky, Mona and her kid sister, Bird, hide in the woods each day because it's fa
Mona and Bird witness something terrible from their treetop perches and suddenly life changes forever.
On this side of the sky, Mona and her kid sister, Bird, hide in the woods each day because it's far better than being home. But then there's the other side, the side Bird dreams of while she sits in the tall trees she climbs to get away from a life devoid of love. Bird may be eight, but her mind's only five, and Mona has to babysit her most of the time. All their father can do when he gets home is lie on the couch and watch TV, and with another baby on the way, it seems like Mona's mother is always too occupied with her own problems and misery to pay any attention to her.
They don't have many friends, but Mona and Bird have always had each other and the hideout of the hidden lake to run to when they needed to escape from mothers and fathers and teachers and bullies and the friends they want and the friends who need their help. But then Mona and Bird witness something terrible in the woods, and suddenly life changes forever for Mona and the others trapped on this side of the sky.
Written from Mona's perspective, this translation of a Governor General's Literary Award-nominee and winner of the PRIX DU LIVRE M. CHRISTIE explores themes of racism, sexual abuse, low self-esteem and the pain all these inflict on those who deserve it least.
Due to more mature content, this book is recommended for children 14 and up.
View Review text
"Translator Susan Ouriou achieves a colloquial English that suits the setting and captures Mona's poetic flair. For instance, we read: "The light's shining louder than usual in all four houses, a blaring light that can be heard from a long way away." Author Marie-Francine Hébert makes use of high-level narrative skills to show the creative and moral potential of people in humble circumstances. I feel elevated for having read it and wish my French was good enough to appreciate the original novel."Highly Recommended
— CM Magazine
"Skilled in the art of illusion, Hébert creates a strong feeling of fragmentation in this novel, while maintaining a tight, unified structure. The translation, by Calgary-based writer Susan Ouriou, is sensitive and subtle, telling the story in natural-sounding, colloquial English without sacrificing its otherworldly sensibility."
— Quill and Quire
"Hébert's characters are finely drawn and realistic."
— School Library Journal
View Biographical note
is one of Quebec's best-loved writers for young people. She has won the PRIX DU LIVRE M. CHRISTIE for Best Book in French and has been twice nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award. Her books have been translated into eleven languages, and her work is enjoyed worldwide.
is a Calgary-based translator and writer. She has been nominated for two Governor General's Literary Awards for her translations of The Road to Chlifa and Necessary Betrayals. Her latest translation for Red Deer Press, Carmen, by Carole Frechette, has been nominated for a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award.
View Promotional headline
IBBY Honour List (Translation French to English), 2008
CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2008 "Starred Choice"