Most people have never seen or heard of New York City’s first inhabitants, shadow beings called the kurbs who love the dark and cold. Unbeknownst to most of the city’s residents, the kurbs control New York’s weather, and in return for light and warmth, every year a human New Yorker must find the source of the kurbs’ power (disguised as a subway token) and return it them. If the human messenger fails, the kurbs will take the city’s heat and light, leaving it dark and icebound forever. Over many generations, the responsibility for solving the kurbs’ puzzle has passed down from mother to daughter along with magical abilities, until the evil Thor Underton decides to steal the kurbs’ token for himself. In the middle of a magical struggle to keep New York from freezing, Sarah Stubbs discovers her mother’s secret identity, and befriends some local kids and a very interesting dog to recover the magic token and save the city. My favorite elements of this story were the homemade airplane (I definitely wouldn’t try this at home!) and the scenes of some secret places around New York from a pigeon’s- and a dog’s-eye-view.

City of Light, City of Dark
ISBN: 9780531070581
by Avi
Art by Brian Floca
Scholastic 2004 (new edition)

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