I always have stacks of books to review for this blog, but sometimes one or the other gets bumped to the top because someone else has requested it from the library, putting a stop to my endless online renewal activity. Such is the case with Amy Hest's How to Get Famous in Brooklyn. That's okay, though. It comes at a good time as one of my favorite book bloggers, Even in Australia just wrote a post about Brooklyn books.
Amy Hest's books have appeared here at Storied Cities before, and in How to Get Famous in Brooklyn, the author continues her love affair with the city. Janie, our narrator, takes us on a tour of the famous borough, where "everybody knows everybody else's business, and that's all there is to it." She points out the various colorful characters, the best places to get black-and-white cookies and describes her daily activities at school and around the neighborhood. Janie writes down all of her observations in what she calls "her spy notebook". So how does she get famous? Well, that's a secret you'll have to read the book to find out. (Or you can just cheat and take a peek at other online reviews.)
Linda Dalal Sawaya's illustrations are as colorful as Janie's observations and many places in Brooklyn are depicted, from the neighborhood streets to the docks on the waterfront. Brownstones are teals, purples and orange and streets, shops and subways are filled with animated people.
This is a longer than average picture book. The concept of spying on and writing about one's neighbors is a theme in many other children's books so the specificity of Janie's Brooklyn neighborhood should not be a barrier to one's enjoyment of the book.
I've also reviewed these Amy Hest books: When You Meet a Bear on Broadway, The Purple Coat, Jamaica Louise James.
Visit the illustrator's website.
Read another book about writing in the city (Manhattan, this time): Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street.
Big Kid says: What neighborhood is that?