Thank You, Neighbor!
Ruth Chan. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-290953-4
Social psychologists have shown that saying hello to the people one encounters can make one feel happier and more connected. Chan’s (The Alpactory: Ready, Pack, Go!) young protagonist, cued as a person of Chinese descent, goes one better. On walks each day with a sweet-faced pooch, they trade “Thank you!” with the people in their multicultural community: the firefighter turning on a fire hydrant fountain, the person sweeping leaves on a sidewalk, the garbage collector who offers to take a bag of the hound’s poop. But this sunny book also takes a no-excuses stand, suggesting that slowing down long enough to show appreciation, no matter how harried life becomes, isn’t just politesse—it also holds people together. As the child walks past a packed bodega and into a library, where the librarian is barely visible behind a pile of books, the first-person narrative observes, “these words work in even the busiest times,” reminding readers that treating a community like a big family is “what makes our neighborhood// feel like home.” Crisp, digitized acrylic, gouache, and charcoal pencil art highlights a range of apartment dwellers liaising on narrow sidewalks, and the book’s strong sense of the common good is as invigorating as a brisk walk. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/08/2021