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Uptown

by Bryan Collier


Publishers Weekly :

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Collier's (These Hands) watercolor and collage artwork effectively blends a boy's idealism with the telling details of the city streets in this picture book tour of Harlem. Played out to the refrain of "Uptown is...," a boy makes the rounds of his neighborhood, starting with the Metro-North train as it crosses the Harlem River ("Uptown is a caterpillar"). Readers see him shopping on 125th Street, where "the vibe is always jumping as people bounce to their own rhythms," listening to music ("Uptown is jazz"), playing basketball and more. From Van Der Zee photographs to the Apollo Theater to the Boys Choir of Harlem, Collier touches on a host of icons; he infuses the volume with a sense of community--musicians improvise, men gather in a barbershop, a trio of sisters in matching dresses head off to church. The artwork creates an inviting visual riff with a pastiche of watercolor portraits, fabric scraps, photographs, wallpaper snippets and newsprint; and both text and art capture a child's sense of perspective and imagination (Collier represents brownstones that the boy thinks "look like they're made of chocolate" with photos of Cadbury bars that double as architectural detail). "Uptown is home," says the narrator, concluding on a note of affection and pride for his neighborhood that informs every page. Ages 4-8. (June)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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School Library Journal :

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K-Gr 4-A young boy provides a particularly inviting, personally guided tour of his uptown home, New York City's Harlem. The Metro-North railroad, chicken and waffles, shopping on 125th Street, the Apollo Theater, jazz, and summer basketball games at the playground are all part of his neighborhood's charm. As in Hope Lynne Price's These Hands (Hyperion, 1999), Collier's evocative watercolor-and-collage illustrations create a unique sense of mood and place. Bold color choices for text as well as background pages complement engagingly detailed pictures of city life. For example, the words "Uptown is a song sung by the Boys Choir of Harlem. Each note floats through the air and lands like a butterfly" are printed in bright yellow and blue on a deep red background. A closer look at the illustrations accompanying the lines "Uptown is a row of brownstones-They look like they're made of chocolate" guarantees a smile at Collier's clever use of Cadbury candy bars. While Uptown does not offer the adult intensity of Walter Dean Myers's Harlem (Scholastic, 1997), it does share its warmth and vitality. Looking from his window high above the sights and sounds of the city, the young narrator concludes, "Uptown is Harlem-Harlem world, my world. Uptown is home." From his perspective, it's the very best place to be, and readers will find it difficult to disagree.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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