Welcome to My Neighborhood: A Barrio A•B•C by Quiara Alegría Hudes, illustrated by Shino Arihara
“A is for abuela. And abandoned car,” begins an adventurous afternoon for two friends – one Latina, the other Asian Pacific American – as they explore the familiar yet unique streets and corners of the little girl’s neighborhood.
From the Chino-Latino corner store to the fire hydrant “spraying summer rain,” to los jíbaros “jamming in the jungle of concrete,” to the muralistas “making murals of island vistas,” to all the Spanish words “I somehow still forget,” to a “universe of maple roots and sidewalk cracks,” this Neighborhood is a realistic portrayal of both the beauty and challenges of growing up amidst major city streets.
This is not your fantastical, all-shiny, too-perfect kiddie book: Mixed in with the city’s ever-changing vibrancy are also the broken bottles, plastic crate hoops, and noisy neighbors. Such reminders definitely give this book an advantage over too many fluffy bunnies and make-believe castles … not that there’s anything wrong with bunnies or castles, of course! We all need to dream … but Neighborhood‘s kiddie-friendly reminders of the more-real world also make for great reading moments, as well.
Author Quiara Alegría Hudes, by the way, also penned the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights – that lyrical talent is certainly in evidence here in her picture book debut. Shino Arihara‘s illustrations infuse Hudes’ words with joyful, unstoppable movement … check out the first spread alone, as the young boy’s parents lovingly look on at their son, his little body in quick motion running toward his smiling, waving, laughing friend as she is dashing out her front door, atop two concrete steps, joyous in her greeting. Friendship doesn’t get better than that!