“Most people are very good people.”
Leannah keeps repeating his message in a worthy yet didactic text that might be most valued in Sunday schools were it not for the surprisingly diverse and contemporary illustrations. Precise, occasionally irreverent ink-and-watercolor illustrations bring different neighborhood people into focus as they go about their days. A bearded, tattooed, white biker type politely allows an older woman with light brown skin, using a cane, to board the bus first and courteously says “After you ma’am.” A little black girl hands another, who sits scowling, a flower to cheer her up. A white man with a blue mohawk waits patiently in line. A young white boy points out a lost dollar bill to a man with light brown skin waiting to buy honey. A street musician plays, a blind woman hugs her guide dog, and a grandfather and his grandson, both white, give a pie to a homeless white woman. Many of these characters are seen in their apartments that night, the Hell’s Angel lookalike and the blind woman both reading in their separate apartments, the spiky-haired punk playing with his cats, and some families enjoying a meal together on the roof. Yes, the illustrations depict an almost perfect place, with diversity, inclusiveness, and basic goodness, but we can dream.
Despite its textual platitudes, the visual stories here are well worth telling. (Picture book. 4-7)