The Afterwards
The Afterwards
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Annotation: Ember feels completely empty after her best friend, Ness, dies unexpectedly. Then she finds a way into the afterworld--a place where the recently dead reside.
Catalog Number: #181300
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Illustrator: Gravett, Emily,
Pages: 197 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 1-547-60044-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-547-60044-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018026731
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
The creators of The Imaginary offer another friendship story that inventively meshes-and blurs-the realistic and the fanciful. The novel-s premise involves two fatal accidents: Ember-s best friend, Ness, falls from a swing, and her uncle-s beloved dog, Betty, is struck by a car. Her grieving uncle furtively leads his niece through a gate into an eerily silent, black-and-white world where the dead reside -for as long as it took them to forget they-d ever been alive.- He makes a deal with the supercilious doyenne of the limbo realm to swap Ember for Betty, since -leaving a live person behind- lets him -take a dead one back- to the living world. Ember finds Ness in the Afterwards and is determined to escape with her, so the two-and their friendship-can live on. This requires Ember to strategically oscillate between the worlds of the living and the recently dead, which makes for some repetition and leads to an unnerving encounter between Ember and her long-deceased mother. Aided by Gravett-s evocative art, Harrold brings this eerie, Briticism-laced tale about accepting change, letting go, and love-s indissoluble bonds to an affecting finale that is very much grounded in real life. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
When Ember's best friend, Ness, dies, Ember tries to bring her back to the world of the living.December, or Ember, as she is known to her family, and her next-door neighbor Happiness, or Ness, have been best friends for three years. Ember is shocked and bewildered when it is announced at school one morning that Ness has died after a fall from a swing at the park. She is distracted enough to accompany her layabout uncle to his house after school, but his intentions are not good. In a strange, black-and-white place, he exchanges Ember's life for that of his beloved dog, who has just died. Ember discovers Ness here, sadly subdued and lacking interest—but Ember wants her back. Gravett's full-color illustrations perfectly channel Harrold's narrative, Ember's feisty character, and the sense of slightly spooky, sad otherness in this place after life. Here are shadows of creatures that were alive but that seem to fade away like smoke. "It's where forgetting happens," a cat tells Ember. "Echoes….Your people echo longest, that's all. Nothing more." In addition to Gravett's pictures, the striking design disorients readers with words that spiral and slide and a white-on-black nighttime interlude. Ember and her widowed dad have light-brown skin and dark hair; Ness is black.Gripping and poignant, a look at what it means to be brave and alive in the face of loss. (Fiction. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* It's not uncommon for children's books to explore the intangible concepts of death and grief, and Harrold and Gravett's latest collaboration (after The Imaginary, 2015) gives these abstractions fascinating shape. Ember and Ness are neighbors and best friends until an accident claims Ness' life. Soon after the tragedy, Ember's uncle takes her on a strange, turning walk that leads them to his house, only it is now the black-and-white of an old movie. Ignoring Ember's questions, he leaves her there as a trade to restore his dog's life. Alone, she steps into the desolate, black-and-white world ber is the only blip of color d discovers a faded, uncharacteristically subdued Ness seated on her front stoop. Ecstatic to find her friend, Ember is sure that if she can get Ness back to the living world, everything will go back to normal. Of course, Ember soon learns that there are strict rules governing such acts. Harrold's poetry background results in concise, evocative writing, which often reflects its meaning in text that swirls or fades on the page. When taken with Gravett's winning chapter illustrations, a curious, immersive narrative emerges, where hard truths are tempered with familial love and the wisdom of a scrappy alley cat. Sensitive readers may need a hand to hold for the story's darker moments, but Ember's vibrant personality imbues the book with unfaltering warmth.
Reading Level: 3.0
Interest Level: 3-6

From the acclaimed team behind The Imaginary comes another powerful, poignant, and darkly fantastical story about friendship, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can't imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real? Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that's what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again? Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold's powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love.

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