Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review - The New Neighbors

The New Neighbors
by Sarah McIntyre
Date: 2019
Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

New neighbors have moved into the ground floor of a bustling apartment building. The bunnies upstairs are excited, but what will the other residents think? Sarah McIntyre's funny, light-hearted tale reveals there's no room for prejudice.

The bunnies upstairs are thrilled to find out that rats have moved into the first-floor apartment. But when other neighbors discover the news, excitement soon turns to jitters, panic, and worse! As the residents descend the stairs to investigate, the rats prepare a yummy dessert. Will all of the animals make the rats leave, or can fear be conquered with delicious, homemade cake?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a story about racism. It's not subtle, but it is awfully cute.

When the bunnies learn that a family of rats has moved in downstairs, they're excited. They go and let their neighbours know. But the neighbours aren't quite as open to the idea of rats in the building. In fact, they have all sorts of preconceived notions about them, and feel it's their duty to warn everyone else. So the party makes its way downstairs, collecting more animals (and more prejudices) as they go. By the time they reach the rats' apartment, they've whipped themselves into a frenzy imagining the dirty, smelly, thieving, dangerous neighbours who are going to steal all their stuff and make the building collapse. But when the door opens, they're greeted by a tidy, friendly rat couple who invite them all in for cake. Embarrassed, the other animals realize that they've let their ideas about rats colour their thinking. A lesson is learned by all (except the bunnies, who didn't really have a problem in the first place).

The pictures are cute, with plenty of details and lots to look at. I enjoyed the visual aspect of the book probably a little more than the text. The text is fairly strong, but it's not subtle at all, and the things the other animals say about the rats before they know any better are kind of cringe-worthy. I also felt a bit uncomfortable when one of the rats says they were worried about what their new neighbours might have thought of them, and one of the bunnies responds with... well, a lie. (I don't know if the bunnies just weren't aware of the prejudices of the others, or if they were just trying to be tactful. In any case, I'm not sure what the correct response would be in that situation. Do you admit you were a racist jerk... or do you lie to make it look like you weren't?)

Hopefully, kids will pick up on the allegory. It could lead to some good discussions about how we shouldn't judge people before we've even met them. Overall, this is a cute book with a good message. I enjoyed it.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment