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City of Light, City of Dark
illus. by Brian Floca
Scholastic, 1993
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City of Light, City of Dark

Sarah has been told falsely that her mother died. Carlos can’t understand why an old blind man is so interested in a subway token he’s found. Together, Sarah and Carlos discover the truth: The evil Mr. Underton was blinded by Sarah’s mother eleven years ago when he tried to steal the token that’s the source of power for New York City. If the token isn’t delivered to safekeeping each December 21st, the whole city will freeze.

Story Behind the Story

I was living in Los Angeles, so, naturally, I wrote a fantasy about New York City. What’s more I sold it to a publisher. But as I continued to think about the book I had a crucial (and a self-critical) thought: It’s a story about NYC and there are no people of color or Hispanics in it. Wrong.

I called the editor who had bought the book, and shared my thoughts. Long pause. She said, “I’ll have to talk to marketing about that.”

There were a few more exchanges, the upshot being that if I went in that (inclusive) direction, she no longer wanted the book. read more

Awards and Honors

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 1993
One of the Best Children’s Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly, 1993
New York Public Library, Books for the Teen Age, 1994


“… Avi and Floca dynamically convey a timeless tale of good versus evil. Brilliantly parodying the superhero cartoons of old, this … is sure to be a hit with reluctant readers and advanced readers alike.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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