Hot City

Overview

It's one of those days in the city when the sidewalk is hot as a frying pan, and Mimi and her little brother Joe are sweatin' out rivers. Spyin' on Mama and the blah blah ladies is no fun. Out on the street the buses are huffin' out dragon-hot smoke. Even a princess-pink snow cone melts away too fast to lick.

Then Mimi and Joe find their way to a place where it's always cool, a place where you can be a princess on a throne or a dinosaur in a ...

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Overview

It's one of those days in the city when the sidewalk is hot as a frying pan, and Mimi and her little brother Joe are sweatin' out rivers. Spyin' on Mama and the blah blah ladies is no fun. Out on the street the buses are huffin' out dragon-hot smoke. Even a princess-pink snow cone melts away too fast to lick.

Then Mimi and Joe find their way to a place where it's always cool, a place where you can be a princess on a throne or a dinosaur in a forest, a place where you can let your imagination run free . . . the library.

Gregory Christie's red-hot illustrations team up with Barbara Joosse's smooth urban voice in this book that points the way to the coolest place in any city.

Mimi and her little brother Joe escape from home and the city's summer heat to read and dream about princesses and dinosaurs in the cool, quiet library.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Summer heat radiates from this evocative work by the creators of Stars in the Darkness. Against a cityscape backdrop of blazing pink, orange and yellow hues, the young narrator sets the scene: "Me and Joe on the front porch steps,/ cement steps, hot as a fry pan,/ sizzlin'./ And my own sweet self?/ That's what's cookin'." Mimi and her restless younger brother ("Oh, no. He's got jumps in his skin") spy on Mama and the other chatting "blah blah ladies," buy snow cones ("Princess pink for me. Dinosaur green for Joe") and walk along the steamy street ("Bricks on one side, bakin' in the sun./ Buses on the other, huffin' out hot") to the "coooool library." There Mimi heads for "the Princess shelf" while Joe "goes to Dinosaurs." As the two pore over their books, Joosse's narrative gives way to four fanciful wordless spreads in which Mimi, as a medieval princess, rides through a lush, verdant forest atop a pink unicorn while Joe hugs the neck of a dinosaur. Christie's quirky acrylic paintings take playful liberties with perspective and scale, and make effective use of unorthodox color (fuschia and lemon "brownstones," tangerine streets). Perceptive readers will pick up on a fun visual premonition: as the siblings approach the library, Mimi glances at a lost-pet-type flyer on a phone pole, picturing a unicorn. Ages 4-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Hot City is a colorful book with a positive storyline. The reader follows Mimi and her little brother Joe across town for their visit to the public library one hot sunny day. The book could potentially have a better feel as a read-aloud to a child; but unfortunately, the vernacular does not sound or feel authentic. "Sweat runs like a river—'cross my face, down my back fillin' me up" is a sampling of this forced language. The colors do run through the story with a vibrancy and liveliness, invoking a truly hot summer in the city. Viscerally, the illustrations succeed. The children's encounter with the group of older black women meeting in the mother's home does not do justice to the cultivating influence such gatherings can have—one in which information, gossip and opinions are exchanged. The 'Blah blah' dialogue among the women does a disservice to this dynamic. It also seems to be an oversight that throughout the children's day, we only see one other child in the streets, bus, or library as they fetch ice cream and travel across town. The medieval fantasy scenes are carried out well, however the story does not draw the reader into the fantasy tale being imagined by our young reader during her visit to the library. However, illustrations, characterized by distortion and realism eventually grow on the reader and give the characters lively personality. 2004, Philomel Books, Ages 5 up.
—Sheree White
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Two African-American siblings sit on the front stoop of their apartment building on a summer day wondering what to do for fun. After spying on their mother and the "blah blah ladies" and trying to cool off with swiftly melting snow cones, Mimi and Joe make their way through the sizzling streets to the sanctuary of the public library. They gratefully drop down into the "smooth and cool" chairs with their books, eager to escape from the heat into the imaginary worlds of princesses and dinosaurs. Eventually, the children reluctantly venture back outside, and as they head for home, Joe aptly sums up their afternoon by stating, "It's good we came. Isn't it." This eloquently told story is boldly illustrated with evocative acrylic paintings in shades of orange, red, and yellow. A few wordless spreads fluidly depict Mimi's imaginary adventure as a fairy-tale princess, as she rides a pink unicorn and foils a robbery. Pair Joosse's outstanding book with Pat Mora's Tomas and the Library Lady (Knopf, 1997), another tribute to the benefits of visiting the library and the joys of reading.-Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On a smoldering summer day, an African-American girl and her little brother sit on porch steps, "hot as a fry pan," trying to figure out how to cool off. When the icy pleasure of snow cones proves all too temporary, the two head for the local library, where they know it will be cool all day long. Once inside, Mimi transports herself to faraway lands through the magic of reading; the next four double-page spreads wordlessly showcase Princess Mimi's royal adventures in the enchanted forest, complete with fancy gown and the requisite ride on a pink unicorn. Joe, absorbed in his book of dinosaurs, is never far away, nor are the hot city streets that sneak back into the picture. Christie's vivacious, artfully distorted, stylized paintings are drenched in vibrant pinks, reds, and orange acrylics that sizzle along with the rhythmic, smooth-as-melted-butter voices. More slice of life than plot-driven story, this unusual urban portrait celebrates libraries and the delicious escape that books-and air-conditioning-offer. A vivid, if somewhat meandering summer-in-the-city vignette. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399236402
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/17/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 0.44 (d)

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