A debut early reader from Yoo and Ng-Benitez introduces a refreshingly diverse cast of characters in an urban setting.
Dark-skinned, curly-haired Lily is ambivalent, at best, about her family’s move to a new home in the city. In the first brief chapter she notes the absence of a yard in front of their brownstone. Her parents assure her that she’ll come to like living there anyway, but a thought balloon above Lily’s wistful face shows her remembering her Cape-style house in a suburban area. Throughout, Ng-Benitez’s warm, multimedia illustrations visually echo the controlled, accessible text in order to provide context clues for new readers. Ensuing chapters show Lily observing the comings and goings of various neighbors and then exploring her new neighborhood with her parents. Matter-of-fact references to the area’s diversity establish the setting as they read a sign in Spanish, visit a florist, eat pizza, see people working in a public garden, look at clothes and a mask “from Kenya…a country in Africa” in one store, and admire saris in another shop-front window. When they end up at the local library, Lily feels comforted by its familiarity, exclaiming, “It looks like our old library,” to her parents. Not only is she pleased to check out books for herself, she uses them to befriend a child she’d earlier seen reading on his front stoop.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Lily! (Early reader. 6-8)