Below the Line

Text & Illustrations by Anna Belysheva

A piercing and timely graphic novel exploring the realities and reasons of poverty from a debut author

According to the World Bank, about 682 million people live in extreme poverty as of 2023. Despite its omnipresence, we got used to it and tend not to notice it. On top of that, society is laden with numerous stereotypes and biases against people who are living in poverty. When we talk to children about poverty, we need to do so in ways that challenge these stereotypes and point to the bigger systems that place people in poverty. That’s exactly what Anna Belysheva is doing in her debut work.
The main character is a turtle who lost his shell house for not paying his debts. In desperation, he joins the local homeless community who introduces him to the basic notions of poverty and its reasons. The turtle is keen to learn more about this tricky phenomenon and find ways to fight it and so he embarks on an informative but quite dangerous journey across the world. By sneaking into the people’s pockets and ships’
containers, he manages to visit Africa, China, North Korea, India, Mexico, and the USA before eventually coming back home.
Beggar mafia and modern piracy, colonisation and slavery, communism and Cold War, female abuse, US-Mexico border, environmental issues – these are just a few of the topics raised in the book. Every ‘chapter’ is summed up by a factual spread with the key points.

  • A vital, unexplored topic in children’s books.
  • A blend of well-paced fiction and facts about poverty, unemployment, as well as history and politics.
  • A timely relevant book for society today reminding that change starts from within.
  • Helps raise awareness of and empathy for those living in poverty and the plight of the homeless.

Age: 10+
Pages: 176
Size: 170*240 mm
Work in progress, to be published by Samokat in 2023.

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