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Reviewed by:
  • Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro
  • Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Chibbaro, Julie Into the Dangerous World; illus. by JM Superville Sovak. Viking, 2015 [352p]
ISBN 978-0-8037-3910-9 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12

Ror’s countercultural commune childhood comes to a screeching halt when her troubled father sets the house on fire and loses his life in the flames. Now she, her mother, and her newly straitlaced sister are trying to eke out life in the New York projects and deal with the realities of Reagan-era America. Attending school for the first time, lifelong artist Ror dives into her art class, where she’s impressed by her talented classmate Trey. Soon she discovers that Trey is a street artist, who along with his crew sprays tags and pieces all over the city, and she’s determined to join them, even if her upbringing has left her with a severe deficit in street smarts. Ror’s a bit of a desperate tagalong when it comes to Trey’s crew, but it’s understandable, and Ror and Trey’s eventual romantic entanglement is effectively developed. The street-art scene of 1980s New York is evoked with immersive vividness, as Ror’s authentically multicultural crew goes on secret missions to paint up the subway trains and embarks on underground graf and dance battles with rival crews. The book’s special strength, though, is capturing the technical as well as the emotional challenges of a young artist, and the details about Ror’s graffiti art are fascinating and knowledgeable. As she did in Deadly (BCCB 1/11), Chibbaro works with artist Superville Sovak, here serving to put Ror’s art, from her street style, to her panel sequences representing her struggles with her father, to her softly sketched classroom [End Page 138] work, into visible (if black and white) reality. The closing acknowledgments also include a rewarding list of book, music, and art influences and suggest a number of films that street-art fans will want to chase down.