The Cot in the Living Room

Penguin/Kokila. Jun. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593110478.
K-Gr 2–The cot in the living room is a source of envy to a young girl who, in a first-person narration, resents the privileges strangers enjoy in her home. She imagines it would be fun to have the whole living room to herself, to stay up late, and sneak snacks from the kitchen. Kids whose caregivers work the night shift are welcomed with tenderness by both of the girl’s parents, yet never accept offers of games or food. It isn’t until the girl is allowed to sleep on the cot herself that she discovers how scary it is, and realizes how it must feel to the visiting children. And it’s not fair that kids have to sleep alone there when the cot fits perfectly between her bed and her snoring older sister’s. As the illustrations show, the young girl can be as welcoming as her kind parents, making sure that guests feel at home. The Dominican heritage of both author and illustrator are reflected in the characters pictured. D’Alessandro floods the pages with soft pastel colors and fills them with details of family life in a city apartment as well as the girl’s swirling fantasies of what she imagines to be her visitors’ good fortune.
VERDICT An important message about empathy, delivered with a light and skillful touch.

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