LEX Copyright Iroda / LEX Copyright Office

by Anne Sibley O'Brien


Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in July 2017

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN is a gripping survival story that might be described as Hachet set in modern-day North Korea, with strong school/library hooks as it deals with human rights and international border crossings, as well as adoption and identity. Against the backdrop of one of the most isolated and repressive modern regimes in the world, IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN is a character-driven, high stakes adventure, offering readers a vibrant insider-outsider view of a country that dominates the news but is virtually closed to outsiders, much as The Kite Runner did with Afghanistan. Twelve-year-old Mia Andrews is an American, a South Korean adoptee, and an avid rule follower, on a tour of North Korea with her rebellious older brother Simon and their aid worker father. When their father is suddenly arrested mid-tour by the North Korean government, Mia and Simon end up alone and on the run through the North Korean countryside, just one step ahead of the pursuing army, with only Mia's Korean School knowledge and Simon's Outward Bound skills to guide them. Their only hope of surviving and saving their father is to get across the Chinese border, over a hundred miles away, on a harrowing journey without food, money, or shelter, in a place where anyone who sees them might turn them in, and anyone who helps them might end up in a labor camp. Within this narrative of adventure and escape, IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN delves into the raw, complicated heart of family and identity to ultimately ask timely and substantial questions about making your voice heard and discovering just how much you're willing to risk to do the right thing and to save the ones you love.

About the author: Anne Sibley O'Brien was raised in South Korea from the age of seven as the daughter of medical missionaries, and has led a bicultural and bilingual existence ever since. Her lifelong connection to Korea was deepened by the adoption of her daughter, Yunhee, who was born in Korea. She is the author of 30+ children's books including The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea (2006, Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, Aesop Award, Booklist's "Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth") and A Path of Stars (2012, Asian Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book, NCSS Notable). AnneSibleyOBrien.com

Why I love IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN: This unique, pulse-pounding book is at once fascinating, informative, and totally un-put-down-able. It has three major strengths. First, it gives readers a glimpse of what life is like in North Korea, how the people live, how the government operates, and, of course, the struggles they face. Occasional chapters from different residents’ perspectives break up the break-neck action and made me FEEL for the people main characters Mia and Simon encounter. Second, it depicts a fraught—and very real—relationship between a younger sister and older brother. These two don’t get along on the best of days, and here they must survive in a foreign country. Mia’s the younger sister, but she proves she has some survival chops (snake soup anyone?). Finally, IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN is insanely tense! Somehow the North Korean setting, a place feared and wondered about by the world over, makes for a unique and powerful style of suspense. I have never read a middle-grade quite like this!

Foreign sales history:

Seven Jamaica titles by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Juanita Havill (Houghton) 1986-2008: British (Heinemann)

The Princess & the Beggar (Scholastic) 1993: France (unknown pub)

After Gandhi (Charlesbridge) 2009: France (unknown pub), India (Hachette), Korea (unknown pub)