Starting Over in Sunset Park

Tilbury House. Mar. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780884488446.
Gr 2-4–A young girl moves from the Dominican Republic to New York City with her mother. She and her mother miss their home, but within a few months, they adjust to their new life. The unnamed girl appears to be about seven; the reason for their move is never stated. Although the girl and her mother initially move in with relatives, once they move out, they are isolated. However, the bond between them is sweet and loving. The mother supports her daughter through her struggles at school and works hard to provide for her. Mother and daughter are brown-skinned, but there are people of many races and colors portrayed in the illustrations. The artwork’s vibrant color scheme is appealing. Brightly colored markers and colored pencils make the illustrations shine. Exteriors and interiors are intricately detailed. Shops have fancy window displays. Kitchens are filled with fruits and vegetables. Tablecloths have fun patterns. The people are less skillfully composed. Head sizes vary, bodies are disproportionate, and perspectives are oddly skewed. The layout of pictures and text lacks cohesion. Some pages have one or two sentences, but a few contain multiple paragraphs of text. Illustrations typically take up a full page, but some pages contain comic-style panels with word bubbles, while others include dialogue within the narrative. By the end of the book, the protagonist has overcome her frustration at school and, thanks to a cat-sitting job, feels more at home in her new surroundings. Despite the lengthy text, readers may not know how she arrived at that state.
VERDICT A sweet but uneven story of immigration and adjustment that will appeal to anyone who has ever been the newcomer.–

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