The Apartment House on Poppy Hill

Chronicle. (The Apartment House on Poppy Hill: Bk. 1). Nov. 2023. 132p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781797213736.
Gr 1-3–Printz Award–winning author LaCour is best known for her young adult novels that handle sensitive themes, such as teenage suicide, grief, queer love, hope, mental health, and loss. The author’s foray into chapter books takes on lighter themes of time and its passing, family, community, inclusion, and the mindfulness of noticing things. Smart, curious, nine-year-old Ella is deeply involved in everyday happenings in the charming old pink Victorian house at 1106 Wildflower Place, San Francisco. Living there are the mysterious and rarely seen older couple, the Robinsons, long-time residents of the top floor. Ella and her two mothers share the middle floor with interracial gay couple Jacques and Merlan, and in the two ground floor apartments are Matilda, an artist, and the new neighbors, Leo and Cleo. Ella is determined to help the new neighbors settle into their unconventional household, and maybe meet the Robinsons along the way. Albert’s drawings of people and things alluded to in the plot function as accents and aren’t designed to move the story along. Readers will appreciate the simple, chapter-driven format of third-person narration with its appropriate vocabulary. Each speaker is clearly identified, and children should have no problem jumping back into the story if their reading is interrupted.
VERDICT A worthwhile purchase that tells a pleasant, inclusive story populated by characters who represent a variety of backgrounds and identities and who come from diverse walks of life.

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