Ordinary city life becomes extraordinary when seen through the eyes of talented author-illustrators Chris Raschka and Christy Hale.
Two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka’s In the City celebrates the joys of newfound friendship. Two girls, one Black and one white, make their way separately through a city while pigeons circle overhead. “Could a friend be waiting for me?” they each wonder.
As the girls walk, pigeons soar above and settle down to roost on a statue in a park. The girls sit on the same park bench and watch the birds. “Now we see them one for one,” the text says, highlighting differences among the birds, including gleaming rainbows of colored feathers. A turn of the page finds the girls facing each other, reaching out to hold hands as the flock takes flight around them. Raschka asks, “How do two friends find each other?”
Raschka’s watercolor city teems with color and movement. Reddish buildings give way to park trees in myriad shades of green. He unites the girls and the birds through a similar shade of blue, seen on one girl’s glasses, the other girl’s hair scrunchie and the pigeons’ neck feathers. Raschka’s plain-spoken prose forms rhyming couplets that never feel forced, and his refrain evokes the coos of pigeons and is sure to be echoed by engaged young readers.
Combining all the ingredients for a perfect read-aloud picture book, In the City is a visual feast and an introspective meditation on the rewards of noticing what’s right in front of us.
The streets of Brooklyn snap into focus on the very first page of Christy Hale’s Out the Door, a salute to the daily routines that define our lives. A girl walks down the front steps of her home, heads down the sidewalk with her father and rides the bustling subway to school. Minimal text and bright, cheerful illustrations reveal every step of the journey. Tree branches arc overhead as she walks down her street. She crosses beneath a traffic light, walks down the subway station stairs, waits on a crowded platform and strolls past shops and skyscrapers.
The book’s prose is spare. “Through a tunnel in the dark” is the only text on a page with a cross section of the city, depicting the girl’s train as it travels beneath the streets. Hale styles prepositions in bold and uses different colors to set them off from the rest of the words, emphasizing the motion of the girl’s journey. Her collage illustrations initially appear as deceptively sparse as her prose, but a closer look reveals skillful use of pattern, texture and detail that brings the city to life as the girl travels through it to school and back home again.
There’s great comfort to be found in such routines, and youngsters will be riveted by the sights and sounds of Hale’s city. Out the Door is a charming read that will prompt readers to reflect on their own daily rituals.