Song in the City

HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063011120.
PreS-Gr 2–Emmalene and Grandma Jean, who are both Black, are dressed in their Sunday best and take the bus to church. Joy written across her face, “Emmalene heard a sing-along song, a busy city symphony that followed her along!” While Emmalene, who is blind and uses a white, black-tipped cane, is entranced by the sounds of the city, Grandma Jean is too busy to listen. Smiling, Emmalene, a few skin tones darker than her grandmother, only slumps into despondency when they sit in the church pew, frustrated by Grandma Jean’s unwillingness or inability to understand her. When Grandma agrees to try—and Emmalene covers Grandma Jean’s eyes—a remarkable thing happens: “I hear your song.” Mohammed cleverly renders sound with colorful abstract and representative shapes against a black background. Sound words are incorporated into the illustrations, with color, size, and case all contributing to the meaning. The story is filled with onomatopoeia and told in rhyme that doesn’t stick to a strict scheme but is nevertheless purely delightful to read aloud.
VERDICT This would make a wonderful story time with Elizabeth Bluemle’s Tap Tap, Boom Boom or Colleen AF Venable’s The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom; a first purchase.

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