Review of Night in the City

Night in the City Night in the City
by Julie Downing; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
3/23    9780823452064    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455188    $11.99

While a child gets ready for bed, a father gets ready for work—as do other night-shift workers in the city. Readers follow the dad (a nurse) and eight others: a taxi driver, a firefighter, an emergency dispatcher, a janitor, a security guard, a hotel manager, an on-location film tech, and a baker. Spreads with multiple panels or apartment windows highlight people at home and at work; in busier scenes the colorfully depicted main characters easily stand out. Nifty details are everywhere, and crisscrossing narratives add tons of fun. Wisely, the quiet text lets the pictures tell the stories, allowing viewers to discover the connections on their own: the hotel manager welcomes a guest whose dog gets loose and runs down the street to the bakery, where firefighters (alerted by the dispatcher) have just put out a fire; an expecting couple hails the taxi driver, and later the nurse tends to new mother and baby, while outside their hospital window the baker holds the lost dog and hails the cab driver, who takes the pup back to its owner, an actor who’s on a set with the film tech. Phew! Fittingly, the work-night wraps up with a scene outside the cozy bakery, where each worker, before heading home, can be spotted inside or out. The characters’ diversity nicely reflects the big-city setting: the nurse is a Black man, the firefighter is a woman, the dispatcher uses a wheelchair, and the hotel manager wears a hijab.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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