Neighbors by Kasya Denisevich

Neighbors by Kasya Denisevich
Review copy from Chronicle Books



Kasya Denisevich describes her debut picture book as a, "story about knowing your new address by heart. About curiosity and courage to meet your neighbor. About the inexhaustible variety of life." With that superb description and her stunning illustrations here, I am tempted to end my review now! However, there are a few more magical moments and and details to share, starting with the copyright page where I learned that Neighbors is typeset in "Kasya Hand, a font created from the author's handlettering"! With illustrations rendered in ink, Denisevich uses a black and grey palette, with sparing touches of red, throughout the book. Near the end of the book, her thoughtful, restrained addition of colors shifts the emotional tone in a beautiful way.

Neighbors begins with the narrator telling readers, "I know my new address by heart: 3 Ponds Lane. Building 2. Apartment 12. And I finally have a room to myself. But if you stop to think about it . . . " Having her own room leads to thoughts about the world around it. After all, her "ceiling is someone's floor," and her floor is "someone's ceiling." And, if she could reach her hand through the wall, she could touch her new neighbor. Expanding out, she wonders about all of her neighbors and what they might be doing, the illustrations matching the narrator's vivid imagination. Telescoping in, the narrator wonders if her neighbors even exist, asking, "What if there is nothing at all beyond the walls of my room?" as she falls asleep. Waking, the narrator exclaims, "Well, today is the day to find out." And what does she find? Stepping out the door, the narrator sees a neighbor who is just her age (dressed in yellow to the narrator's red). As the new friends walk to school together, the narrator wonders what her classmates will be like. The final illustrations show city streets lined with trees filled with yellow leaves, the new friends walking together toward a busy playground.

With few, well chosen words and few, well chosen colors, Denisevich has authored and illustrated an unforgettable picture book that invites multiple readings.

For an similarly enchanting exploration (with a more American vibe) don't miss 
Windows by Julia Denos, illustrated by EB Goodale



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