Song of the Old City

Putnam. Nov. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524741044.
PreS-Gr 1–In a modern folktale that requires an old-fashioned suspension of disbelief, a little girl has a whirlwind adventure in Istanbul’s old city that introduces her to some of its sights, sounds, tastes, and many kindnesses. The nameless child, who has peach skin and brown hair, meets friendly people who offer her delicious tea, crunchy simit, sweet pomegranate juice, and some of the exciting snacks of the Spice Bazaar. She explores the city from high to low, taking to seas, rooftops, bridges, and even a bathhouse with a sweet-faced older woman. Along the way, the girl shares her treats and the story of her day with the people she meets, and offers her gratitude. The second-person narration referring to the girl as “you” draws readers into her experiences. Adding to this intimate feel are the lovely digital illustrations, which feature bold reds and teals on a predominantly white background accompanied by lots of texture and patterns, all of which create a warm and breezy atmosphere. Adult readers may want to remind impressionable young listeners about stranger danger. While readers unfamiliar with Istanbul may not get a broader sense of the city from this adventure, it certainly instills a sense of hospitality and possibility and will certainly pique curious minds to learn more.
VERDICT A necessary purchase where books that highlight kindness, exploration, and wonder are in demand.

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