The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books

Summary: Jacqueline Woodson looks back on her childhood summers in Brooklyn where kids played freely on the streets all day long.  Children of all ages and races gathered for playground games, frolicking through the water from an open fire hydrant, and enjoying treats from the ice cream truck.  People were kind, the older kids helping younger ones who got hurt, and everyone pooling their money for ice cream.  When suppertime came, mothers called their children home in a variety of languages, and the kids made plans for the next day as they left.  Jacqueline ran home, already excited about tomorrow “and the many tomorrows to come.  Not just in Brooklyn, not just in the summer…but everywhere I’d ever go and always.”  32 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  Turns out Jacqueline Woodson and I were born the same year, so I really grooved with the 1970’s vibe which is perfectly portrayed by Leo Espinosa.  This would make an excellent mentor text for memoir writing.  Anyone who has ever pondered the question, “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” will feel like they’ve arrived with the Brooklyn streets portrayed here.

Cons: Could lead readers to some unfortunate fashion choices like plaid bell bottoms and white tube socks.

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