What Can a Citizen Do?

Dave Eggers, illus. by Shawn Harris. Chronicle, $17.99 (52p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7313-9
In manifesto-style language, Eggers (The Lifters) exhorts readers to get together and get involved (“Do something for another. Don’t you dare doubt that you can!”), while elaborate cut-paper illustrations by Harris (Her Right Foot) follow a group of children who slowly transform a little island with a single tree into a lively tree house society. When a posted “No trumpets” sign excludes a trumpet player, the founders amend the sign to “OK trumpets,” showing that building community, literally and figuratively, demands a willingness to compromise. Eggers’s narration is sometimes literal, sometimes oblique (“Yes! A citizen can be a bear,” he writes, as the kids welcome a huge bear to their group), but it’s never less than stirring. The dimensionality and complexity of Harris’s illustrations, meanwhile, beautifully embody the messy realities and exciting potential of the civic enterprise. The cast of characters is forthrightly diverse, including a girl wearing a hijab and a child of indeterminate gender wearing a baseball cap, big boots, and a tutu. As Eggers writes, “Who can a citizen be?/ A citizen is just like you.” Ages 5–8. Author’s and illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
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