Elves on the Fifth Floor (The City of R. #1)

Francesca Cavallo, illus. by Verena Wugeditsch. Undercats, $21.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-953592-03-3
Oldest child Manuel; Camila, who is two years younger; and four-year-old Shonda Greco-Aiden have just moved into the city of R. with their mothers: Isabella, who has brown skin, and Dominique, who is blonde and pale. They’ve just fled from “a faraway country” whose newly elected president has declared “that families like theirs—ones with two moms and three kids—were illegal.” Just three days before Christmas, the family is eager to settle in and befriend their new neighbors, but they’re met with chilly silence due to a mayoral decree that encourages avoidance as a way to uphold R.’s reputation as a town where “nothing bad ever happened.” A letter from Santa himself requesting the family’s help gift-wrapping means that 10 elves and piles of presents arrive the next day, but holiday cheer is soon cut short by unhappy neighbors and trouble. With an inclusive cast, Cavallo offers a cozy if uneven series starter centering community, while Wugeditsch’s luminous, densely colored illustrations reify the story’s warmth. Front matter includes an author’s note. Ages 7–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/09/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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