In the Neighborhood

­Charlesbridge. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781623543600.
K-Gr 4–The latest offering from Spanish author-illustrator Bonilla is a heartwarming story about how a neighborhood becomes a community. Translated into English, the story of mismatched expectations is for readers of all ages—young and young-at-heart—who will delight in the funny and detailed illustrations. The book opens with Camila, a hen, whose 10 chicks make the house a very noisy one. Camila has a preconceived notion about her neighbors and herself; every subsequent character holds some of the same preconceived notions, making them skeptical that any of them would ever want to interact. When Mrs. Paquita’s internet connection stops working, a chain reaction opens the neighborhood’s doors to bring them all together. Each character has an internal motivation that no one else knows about until they get to know one another. For example, Pepe the ogre is an avid reader who wants to start a book club in the neighborhood, but no one will ever ring his doorbell. The characters are relatable, even though they are anthropomorphized creatures. Bonilla’s illustrations are the heart of the story, with neutral, muted colors, but maintaining a playful manner throughout. The renderings are extremely detailed and purposeful, from humorous facial expressions to the shingles on a roof. The illustrations and text could not work without one another; in themselves, they are a community.
VERDICT This could easily be a story hour favorite. Recommended purchase for any children’s collection.

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