The World Belonged to Us

Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. May 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399545498.
Gr 2-6–Fond memories of summer vacation at home in Brooklyn are the backbone of this vivid picture book memoir. Woodson describes what it was like to leave school and have an extended period of free time without a great deal of adult supervision. She describes the games the kids would play, how disputes would be solved, how the bigger kids would take care of the younger kids, and how the kids would take care of each other. Some young readers will have a hard time believing that children used to be allowed to play outside for long periods of time with only one another to direct activities and solve problems when the need arose. Woodson’s evocative use of language will bring readers right into the hot Brooklyn streets. The illustrations are perfect for this story, with a 1970s retro vibe. The joyful portrayal of many different kinds of kids in the expressive text is echoed in the striking art work. This will make an excellent conversation starter for families about how kids used to play. It would also serve as a wonderful mentor text to model how to write a vacation experience.
VERDICT A gorgeous depiction of summer vacation in Brooklyn in the 1970s that could work in writing classes as well. Don’t miss this one.

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