Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Through the photos of a fictional nine-year-old girl narrator, Vaswani creatively introduces the idea of truly “seeing”, utilizing multiple points of view and perspectives of New York City. Intentionally mirroring her own life, she shows that the narrator’s family is biracial — Asian and African-American — a kind of family she states that she never saw in books when she was growing up. Vaswani also purposefully ensures that the city exists as a character itself by including a treasure trove of views of vibrant, diverse city life. The visual feast includes murals, statues, gardens, people, buildings and animals. Plentiful white space frames the photos. Short sentences make up the narrative, such as, “Shapes and patterns are everywhere.” Readers may be surprised to find out that the photos weren’t actually taken by the narrator, but the author does a great job explaining her creative process in a note at the end.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No.
To whom would you recommend this book? The simple narrative makes this accessible to youngsters in preschool, but the sophisticated ideas it illustrates could extend its readership up through the elementary grades and even into middle school picture book collections. It could be used as an intro to photography and/or a demonstration of point of view and perspective. Many of the photos could easily serve as writing prompts.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and classrooms, middle school picture book collections, public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve with photography books in 770, but book talk it to teachers and students to increase awareness.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 8/21/18