Kids are masters of wild invention. In The Neighbors, author and illustrator Einat Tsarfati cheerfully pulls young readers into a world of colorful, untamed imagination as seen through the eyes of one creative little girl.
There are many doors in the girl’s apartment building; some doors seem playful, some foreboding, and one is downright smelly. The lobster door knockers, jungle plants and paw prints she finds in the halls all lead her to one conclusion: Her building is full of museum thieves, mermaids and jazz musicians. Whoever they are, she asserts, the residents of her building are far more exciting than her own parents.
While Tsarfati writes with a genuinely kid-friendly voice, she wisely limits her narration and lets her art take over. Again and again, our curiosity ends with a satisfying explosion of intriguing detail and vibrant colors that tumble boldly into each apartment. Rare gems join a clutter of Legos, fire-breathing acrobat babies toast bread and pirate-ship chandeliers sway underwater. Readers will want to explore every inch of the pages. Hint: keep your eyes open for the missing pet hamster that appears as a sort of Where’s Waldo? in each apartment scene.
Tsarfati writes and illustrates with a child’s enthusiasm and sense of possibility. Bold and exciting, The Neighbors teeters delightfully on the edge of chaos with an acrobat’s balance of storytelling and imagination. With so much to look at, it’s a hard book to close. Tsarfati tells one apartment resident’s story, but there are countless others yet to be discovered.