cover image The Doorman’s Repose

The Doorman’s Repose

Chris Raschka. New York Review Children’s Collection, $17.95 (184p) ISBN 978-1-68137-100-9

Eccentricities run rampant in two-time Caldecott Medalist Raschka’s poignant, charming, and very funny fiction debut, which introduces the residents (both human and mouse) of 777 Garden Avenue, a “neo-proto-Aztec-Egyptian-Gothic” apartment building on New York City’s Upper East Side. The 10 stories, written in first-person plural and introduced by Raschka’s customary fauvist artwork, stand alone yet, together, create a vibrant patchwork portrait of an interconnected community. Mr. Bunchley would be the perfect doorman, if only he could talk baseball with the residents (“I like to see a screwball, Bunchley,” says one resident. “I like comedies, too,” he replies). The building’s opera singer loses her voicejust before a legally mandated city inspection (“As everyone in New York City knows, each building must have at least one working opera singer”). And two mice, inspired by human residents, pursue careers in psychiatry and jazz. With echoes of The Westing Game (minus the mystery) and the Wayside School books (minus the focus on children), Raschka’s novel walks a fine line between contemporary and classic while conjuring a vision of New York that’s both familiar and fantastical. Ideal for adventurous readers and family readalouds. Ages 10–up. (May)