cover image Somebody's New Pajamas

Somebody's New Pajamas

Isaac Jackson. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1570-7

In this poignant picture book about economic disparity, the different circumstances of their families do not stand in the way of two boys' friendship. When Robert, the new kid in school, invites his pal Jerome for a weekend sleep-over, Jerome has a terrific--and illuminating--time. Robert lives in a big brownstone, has a TV in his room, eats in fancy restaurants with his parents and wears silky pajamas to bed. Jerome feels uncomfortable thinking about how his family lives in a small apartment and how he's always slept in his underwear, never owning a pair of pajamas. Back at home, Jerome's father puts things in perspective when he tells his son, ""This family has its own way of doing things."" In his debut, Jackson infuses his well-paced story with a realism and relevance that make a difficult subject easier for young readers to understand. The characters here have a strong sense of identity, which allows them to adapt to different situations and readily accept each other. Soman's warm watercolor portraits provide emotional resonance to the text. His combination of accurate urban landscapes and universal interior settings gives the book added accessibility. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)