cover image Milo Imagines the World

Milo Imagines the World

Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson. Putnam, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-54908-3

On a long subway ride through New York City, a Black boy named Milo looks around at the other passengers. He wears glasses and an oversize hat, and carries a sketch pad. His older sister sits next to him, busy with her phone, but they feel the same mixture of emotions: “Excitement stacked on top of worry/ on top of confusion/ on top of love.” Where are they going? Readers know only that the siblings take this journey once a month, on a Sunday. Working in blocky forms and warm, bright colors, Robinson creates a subway car full of distinct personalities as a tapestry of city life unspools in front of Milo. A Black woman in a wedding dress, a group of break-dancing girls with various skin tones, a jacketed white boy with neatly combed hair and spotless white Nikes—Milo imagines existences for them all, drawing in his sketchbook as readers look over his shoulder. For the boy in white shoes, Milo invents a princely existence, with a castle and servants to bring him food. But the boy gets off the same stop as Milo and waits in line at the same place, a moment that transforms Milo’s view of the people whose lives he’s imagined: “Maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face.” In this rich, multilayered journey, the award-winning creators of Last Stop on Market Street celebrate a city’s kaleidoscope of scenes, offer a glimpse at a child’s experience with parental incarceration, and convey that child’s keen observations about his circumstances and surroundings. Ages 4–8. Agent (for de la Peña and Robinson): Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.)