word craft


City of Light, City of Dark

City of Light, City of Dark

Scholas­tic, 1993
illus. by Bri­an Floca

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What’s this book about?

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.

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Awards and Recognition

  • 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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