cover image The House of Joyful Living

The House of Joyful Living

Roni Schotter, , illus. by Terry Widener. . FSG/Kroupa, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33429-1

Schotter’s (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street ) vivid entry in the jealousy-of-coming-sibling genre rises above its category by focusing on the protagonist’s beloved New York City apartment building, a genuine melting pot. Despite the crumbling brick and peeling paint, the camaraderie of its multiethnic residents fills the house with joy and love. As the only child on the premises, the narrator is the center of attention. Frenchie folds the Sunday comics into birds (“wah-zoh”) just for her; everyone admires the signs she makes—no wonder she doesn’t want an infant intruder. Widener’s (The Babe & I ) characteristically stylized paintings adopt a variety of perspectives, including child’s-eye level, to convey the multilayered harmony. The artist represents the shared “paradise,” the roof garden where the neighbors congregate, through a child’s idealizing lens: it boasts manicured gardens, matching furniture and classical sculpture. Other images, such as a nighttime rooftop view of the Brooklyn Bridge, are equally romantic if more clearly urban, and rendered as affectionately as the text. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)