Small in the City

Holiday House/Neal Porter Bks.. 40p. Sept. 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823442614..
PreS-Gr 1–Wordless panels show someone’s silhouette looking out of a foggy window. The page turns and perspective shifts to show a child riding the bus dressed for winter. The child disembarks and the next few pages are presented like snapshots, with snippets of city life—buildings, lights, crowds, and sidewalks—painted with dark ink lines that underscore the narrator’s message about how overwhelming urban life can be. The child recommends avoiding a dark alley and a yard full of dogs, and points out some good hiding and climbing spots. Casual readers may be alarmed when the child recommends taking a nap beneath a snowy dryer vent, but there are clues about who the child is actually addressing. As the snow intensifies, the child trudges along putting up lost cat posters, seeming smaller and lonelier as the book progresses. The story culminates in a desolate scene where the child, alone in a gray blizzard, plaintively calls, “If you want, you could just come back,” followed by images of footsteps in the snow, a city skyline, and a woman waiting in the snow. They embrace, and readers know that the child is safe and loved. “But I know you.” The child comforts, “You will be all right.” The final page shows a line of fresh cat prints in the snow, reassuring readers that all is well.
VERDICT The use of line, reflection, and perspective masterfully evoke a bustling gray city, making this thoughtful book an artful choice for large collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing