In the companion title to Yoo and Ng-Benitez’s Lily’s New Home (2015), Lily enjoys playing with a diverse group of friends in her new neighborhood.
A helpful title-page illustration introduces Lily and her friends, Henry (the only white child), Mei, Pablo, and Padma, by name in order to support new readers in keeping track of them from one page to the next. Then, the first brief chapter opens with Pablo heading outside to read after being distracted by his sisters’ indoor play. He abandons his book, however, when Lily comes by with her mother and invites him to go to the park. They are soon joined by Mei, Henry, and Padma, and they go on the swings, play basketball, and climb on the play structure. Ng-Benitez’s inviting multimedia art deftly conveys a shift when the children’s play moves into imaginary scenarios as verso-page depictions of the playground come into dialogue with facing recto images of imagined scenes in a cave, at the beach, in space, and so on. When rain threatens, the children all go to Pablo’s house, where they join his sisters in their play.
Young readers are sure to want to join Pablo, Lily, and all of their friends, and it’s wonderful to note that the diverse characterization will aid in making many feel all the more included. (Early reader. 6-8)