An inquisitive child speculates about the neighbors’ lives in this lively outing, translated from Hebrew.
The first spread depicts a child narrator (coded in cartoon-style, digital illustrations as feminine with long, red hair in a ponytail) approaching a building. The accompanying text reads, “I live in a building that is seven stories high,” and a page turn shows her going inside on the verso. The facing recto depicts seven variously styled mailboxes that correspond with the front doors of each apartment she’ll pass while walking upstairs and bolsters her assertion that each door is “slightly different.” Those differences are, in fact, great: They’re all different colors; some are ornately decorated, while others are plain; and each has a clue that inspires the child to imagine the apartment’s inhabitants. It’s never confirmed whether her visions of neighbors as masked thieves, an explorer, acrobats, a vampire, a pirate and his mermaid spouse, or musicians (this last spread is the only one to, thus far, clearly depict people of color) are imaginary or are part of a fantastic reality. When her mother (who shares her paper-white coloring) and father (who appears Asian) put her to bed, readers may note that her bedroom is filled with details corresponding with her visons of her neighbors. So maybe she was just imagining them? But then a closing spread undermines her earlier statement about her “boring” parents by depicting them as superheroes. This fantastic twist reintroduces the possibility that anyone might reside behind the neighbors’ doors, after all.
Delightfully ambiguous and recursive. (Picture book. 3-7)