THE LITTLE SKYSCRAPER

Scott Santoro, Author, Scott Santoro, Illustrator . Price Stern Sloan $12.99 (1p) ISBN 978-0-8431-7677-3

In this chipper, if saccharine, historic preservation fable, a skyscraper (with hybrid features that resemble the Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings) faces destruction—until an architect who fell in love with the edifice as a child rallies the city to save it. The boy, Jack, who "look[s] up to the little skyscraper," stands on a corner with his parents as vintage cars drive by and The Fountainhead plays at the cinema across the street. Later, he grows up to fight City Hall on the building's behalf. Despite the simplistic, old-fashioned text, Santoro (Isaac the Ice Cream Truck) draws on his experience as an animator to create a breezy, cinematic perspective and a heightened sense of space (though the book's overlong vertical format may present shelving challenges). He captures both the exhilarating bustle and growth of a metropolis, as well as the sense of menace that the ever-encroaching urban canyon represents to the beleaguered building. The artist makes the most of the little skyscraper's two cathedral-window eyes and mouth to communicate emotions, from joy to chagrin—as well as an attack of vertigo ("Sometimes even the little skyscraper got dizzy from looking down"). Even youngest readers will get the heavy-handed message that when something wonderful from the past is preserved, everybody stands tall. All ages. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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