Review of Keeping the City Going

Keeping the City Going
by Brian Floca; illus. by the author
Primary    Dlouhy/Atheneum    40 pp.    g
4/21    978-1-5344-9377-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-9378-0    $10.99

Caldecott winner Floca (Locomotive, rev. 9/13) presents a love letter to New York City and its essential workers during COVID-19. “We are here at home now, watching the world through our windows. Outside, we see the city we know, but not as we’ve seen it before.” As children peer out from their apartment windows, the streets are quiet, but not empty. There are food deliverers on bikes, sanitation workers, mail carriers, first responders, and more; an ambulance pulls into a hospital driveway, and we enter the building to see the medical professionals and support team, “everyone working through long days and worry to help patients heal.” As evening falls, we’re back to the neighborhood, where at seven o’clock people open their windows, clap their hands, bang pots and pans, shout, and cheer their thanks. (The appended author’s note provides further context.) Floca’s watercolor, ink, acrylic, and gouache art, in his beautifully realistic style, features delicate lines, light-catching hues, and pore-over-able details, much like an actual city scene. Motion-filled vignettes alternate with expansive spreads to help pace the narrative and hold readers’ attention; so, too, do many of the figures’ gazes, looking directly out at viewers. The text is true to events but un-alarmist, with restrained lyricism that underscores unity: “We hear the city say to us — and we say back to the city — that we are still here, and we are here together.”

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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