The World Belonged to Us

Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Leo Espinosa. Penguin/Paulsen, , $18.99 ISBN 978-0-399-54549-8

Written from within a community of friends, in a voice that often uses “we,” lilting, intimate-feeling lines by Woodson (The Year We Learned to Fly) capture a delicious sense of autonomy and possibility shared “In Brooklyn/ in the summer/ not so long ago,” when “the minute/ school ended, us kids were free as air.” Pencil and digital art centers blue skies and city landscapes as Espinosa (The Creature of Habit) draws children of varying ages and skin tones bursting from the doors of a school, with 1970s clothing details that are right on the mark. In the hot days that follow, the kids crowd sidewalks and stoops, open hydrants, and play street games with chalk and bottle caps. They also engage in camaraderie and community care, comforting each other after scrapes, noticing each other’s gifts (“We said, You sure can draw... and we meant it”), and sharing an ice cream truck’s bounty, “because some days the ones with no money/ were us.” And in this Brooklyn nabe, the kids dream big, because “anything was possible/ when a guy from our block was good enough/ to play for the Mets.” Affirming the strengths of shared experiences and power drawn from collective appreciation, the creators show how a childhood can engender joy that follows “everywhere I’d ever go.” Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME. (May)
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