cover image The Apartment House on Poppy Hill

The Apartment House on Poppy Hill

Nina LaCour, illus. by Sònia Albert. Chronicle, $14.99 (132p) ISBN 978-1-797213-73-6

In this warm chapter book series opener, three brief, homey stories depict an irrepressible nine-year-old welcoming new residents to her beloved San Francisco apartment house, pondering the mutability of time, and finally meeting her reclusive neighbors. All her life, de facto concierge Ella has lived in the pink and green building at 1106 Wildflower Place. She knows its quirks—such as how to get the oven working in the ground floor apartment, and when to expect the raucous sounds of an instrument so rare it doesn’t have a name—and cheerfully shares her knowledge with residents. The only child of moms Abby and Livy, Ella cultivates affectionate bonds with each of the inhabitants, including theatrical Matilda and dog owners Jacques and Merland, as well as the shy Robinsons on the top floor, despite never having met in person. Through Ella’s infectious narration and the stories’ loosely defined plots, LaCour (My Friend, Loonie) sketches distinctive, endearing characters and offers a gentle celebration of intergenerational friendship and community. Cozy grayscale illustrations by Albert (Santa’s Secret Holiday) imply racial diversity among the supporting cast; Ella appears white. Ages 7–10. Agent: Sara Crowe, Sara Crowe Literary. (Nov.)