The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos, illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro

The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos, illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro. Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2021. 9780593110478

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Realistic fiction/picture book

What did you like about the book? A child watches as her parents offer a cot in the living room to kids whose parents have to work at night. She is annoyed that she never gets to sleep there and have the whole living room to herself. But when she finally gets to sleep on that cot, the pillow is uncomfortable and there are noises from the kitchen, and it’s scary in the living room alone at night. The next time a child must come to stay for the night, she invites them to share the bedroom with her and her sister, as she finally understands that the cot in the living room is a lonely place for kids away from home.

This is a sweet story about empathy, and the reader makes the connection along with the character, who tells the story in the first person. The flyleaf notes tell the reader that the book takes place in the Dominican American community in New York City, although any reader can identify with the story. And for kids who have never had to think about a parent leaving them to work at night, this can be a good way to learn about the different ways families operate. The digital art portrays the character, a brown skinned girl, with wonderful facial expressions that easily communicate her emotions. The realism of the apartment and people are complemented by fantastical elements that echo the child’s thoughts and feelings.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 4-8, especially when learning about diversity in families, or talking about empathy. Pair with Karen Hesse’s Night Job for a story time about work at night.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s worth a look – there aren’t many kids’ books about parents who work the night shift.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 14, 2021

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