Review of In the Neighborhood

In the Neighborhood In the Neighborhood
by Rocio Bonilla ; illus. by the author; trans. from Spanish by Maya Faye Lethem
Preschool, Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp.       g
9/22     978-1-62354-360-0     $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-63289-247-8    9.99

The occupants of seven houses in the same neighborhood have never met when this story begins. Their false assumptions and fears about one another have kept them from interacting and becoming friends. For instance, fox Mr. Martínez—a lawyer by day—wishes he had an audience for his juggling but doesn’t think the huge dragon next door would appreciate it. The dragon, however, is really a mouse who wears a disguise to scare away his cat neighbor (who is actually a vegan). They do not become a community until owl Mrs. Paquita has to go outside to fix her internet (she usually stays up all night web surfing), and robot-inventor pig Matilda, surprised to see someone next door, offers help. One by one the residents venture out of their homes and comfort zones to approach others or lend a hand and end up all the happier for it. This quirky Spanish import reads like folklore (complete with a superhero-loving bookworm ogre and “Once upon a time”); the straightforward moral is understated and ­heartwarming. Bonilla’s playful story and pastel illustrations accentuate the characters’ personalities with small details readers will relish revisiting (such as bleary-eyed chicken Camila overpouring her coffee as her ten chicks cause chaos in the kitchen).

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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