An iconic picture book gets rebooted.
Even before the opening—“I am Ella / I am six // I am an urban child / I live at The Local Hotel”—savvy readers will recognize the cover design of a girl writing her name in red lipstick on a huge mirror. Ella has brown skin, a bubble skirt and less of a glint in her eye than Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s Eloise, but she takes similarly rambunctious ownership of her funky, contemporary home-hotel. Ella’s mischief and cadence (and Kasdan’s minimal punctuation) ring thrillingly familiar: “If there are a lot of wheelie suitcases trying / to get in the elevator and these people are all in a band / with a bunch of groupies and publicists / and bloggers or something I wedge myself right in / the middle of it and drop my MetroCard.” The tattooed, male nanny “might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck”; elsewhere Ella reports, “Sometimes I put edamame / in my nostrils.” Her self-descriptions are hilarious; the text winks with merry self-awareness. However, Chin’s color-focused art is flat and unfortunately earnest, lacking visual humor. This newbie mischief-maker can’t approach the original, but that’s fine—it’s not parody, correction or competition; it’s homage. Both books together make a very cool gift.
For hipsters of all ages. (Picture book. 6-adult)