Gr 1-3-Bebop-a-Do-Walk! delivers the freshness and energy that its title implies. Hamanaka sets the scene with a description of the New York of her childhood-the Lower East Side in the 1950s. On the day on which this story takes place, Emi and her best friend accompany Emi's father on a long walk. As they begin the trek that will take them to Central Park, it seems that the whole neighborhood turns out to give them a proper send off. Emi's father has people to see all along the way, and the trip takes them to landmarks such as Washington Square Park, the Empire State Building, the Museum of Modern Art, and, at last, Central Park. Hamanaka captures the girls' childlike wonder by involving all of the senses, and her description of Central Park is well worth the walk. The outing concludes with a bus trip home. Hamanaka's art is as full as the wonderful day she describes, leaving no room for white space. The text is backed by pastels and black, both of which highlight the interesting typeface and frame the energetic art. The friendship between Emi (Asian) and Martha (Black), along with their ethnically rich yet close-knit neighborhood, provides an affirming look at city life. Though the message is more subtly stated than in Hamanaka's beautiful poem, All the Colors of the Earth (Morrow, 1994), the fact that our differences are mainly on the outside still comes through loud and clear.-Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA
Emi and her best friend, Martha, take a long, joyful walk with Emi's father from their Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City. Emi is Japanese American, Martha is African American, and Hamanaka is remembering her own 1950s childhood. The friends ride the carousel in Central Park; they almost see King Kong on the top of the Empire State Building; they gape at the Museum of Modern Art; they imagine the clubs where the great jazz heroes made music. When a rich kid won't let them near his toy sailboat, Emi's father folds origami paper boats for all the kids to sail on the pond, and he also makes paper hats and paper cranes for everyone. There's not much story, just the idyllic memory; but Hamanaka's exuberant acrylic paintings capture the city close-up from many perspectives as Emi has fun with her friends and neighbors from everywhere.