THE WORLD BELONGED TO US

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Now they can play outside all day till the streetlights come on, when moms call them home. This nostalgic homage to Woodson’s childhood in her beloved Brooklyn evokes the senses: the sounds of laughter and double Dutch rhymes, the sight of sidewalk chalk and bottle cap games, and the taste of an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles from the ice cream truck. The refrain, “In Brooklyn / in the summer / not so long ago,” appears in text the color of summer heat: red, orange, yellow. The bell-bottom plaid pants; white, knee-high, color-ringed tube socks; and loud-and-proud Afros pinpoint this story’s ’60s or ’70s setting. The amazing diversity of the neighborhood comes through both in Espinosa’s lively, colorful retro illustrations, which depict Black, brown, and White children, and Woodson’s lyrical text, which describes kids calling “out to each other / in Spanish / in English / in Polish / in German / in Chinese.” They also get along well, with the older kids looking out for the younger ones and those with ice cream money sharing with those without “because some days the ones with no money / were us.” Espinosa depicts many characters with mouths wide open, emphasizing their unbridled delight and loudness. Author and illustrator offer a refreshing reminder of a pre-internet time when full-immersion play was the summer activity and kids took full advantage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

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