Evoking the same kind of New York charm as favorites like The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge and The House on East 88th Street, screenwriter Ackerman celebrates a humble phone booth (still standing at 100th Street and West End Avenue) that saves the Upper West Side--and vice versa. Fellow newcomer Dalton's retro vignettes set the scene with square-jawed men in skinny ties, Girl Scouts in braids, and assorted neighborhood clowns, ballerinas, and secret agents while Ackerman explains how things used to be. "Each week, phone company workers came to clean and polish the Phone Booth, to collect the deposited coins, and to make sure that its buttons were working properly." The booth has plenty of customers until people start holding "shiny silver objects" to their ears, puzzling the phone booth and eradicating the long lines of callers waiting "just to wish their grandmas a happy birthday." An electrical storm reveals the vulnerability of the cellphone network ("Hey, does this old thing work?" a construction foreman asks, eyeing the dilapidated booth), causing the locals to reevaluate its worth. Cultural history of the best sort. Ages 5-7. (June)
Gr 3�5—On the corner of West End Avenue and 100th Street in Manhattan there stands an old-fashioned phone booth, a superfluous fixture in our cell-phone world. This lonely phone booth, however, enjoys a happy ending after an electric storm shuts down the city. Finding their cell phones dead but the landlines in working order, a grateful neighborhood rallies to save the booth after a city crew threatens to haul it to the dump. Ackerman injects humor into the tale through a bevy of characters from everyday passersby (a construction foreman needing more cement and a Girl Scout calling for cookies) to the eccentric (a zookeeper looking for a lost elephant and a secret agent needing to change his disguise). Dalton adds wit and color with illustrations that are a combination of individual vignettes and full-page images. A well-paced story but probably most appealing to adults predisposed to preservation projects.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
…warm, quirky…Scene-stealing illustrations by Max Dalton convey the story's nostalgic sensibility…Like Hildegarde H. Swift's Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge (1942), in which the lighthouse learns it still has an important job even after the construction of the giant George Washington Bridge, Ackerman's story expresses a sentimental connection to an old New York symbol.
The New York Times