From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Rose has an embarrassing speech impediment. Sometimes she switches around the beginnings of words, for example, calling her home, New York City, "U Nork" instead. During a trip to Central Park with her father and her brother, Oliver, from The King in the Window (Hyperion, 2005), she sees mysterious steps across the lake, but no one believes her. Soon after, classmate Ethan, now Louis, reveals to Rose that the steps are real and lead to U Nork, a flip-side New York City where, believe it or not, the pace is even faster and the people are ruder. Its citizens are in trouble, and it's Rose's face they've been seeing in the sky as the only one who can save them. The rip-roaring plot is laced with original and fantastical characters who fully enjoy 20-second lunches shot into their mouths with small cannons and use giant pigeons as taxis. Gopnik's writing is sharp and smart, and U Nork is an exciting place. Readers will cheer for Rose and her friends and have more than an occasional chuckle along the way. McCall's glossy, full-color, full-page illustrations are beautiful in their simplicity and help create the feel of a modern fairy tale.-Mandy Lawrence, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Oliver, the hero of Gopnik’s The King in the Window (2005), plays second banana to his fourth-grader sister, Rose, in this inventive fantasy adventure. A chance occurrence—well, maybe it’s chance—leads New Yorker Rose across a hidden bridge to U Nork, an Oz-style secret city that’s in many ways a mirror of New York (instead of Central Park, they have Sin-Trail Park). In other ways, though, it’s different: buildings are so tall it takes all day to ride elevators, and life is so hectic that cooks use cannons to fire meals across the street into diners’ waiting mouths. It’s a wonderfully imagined blend of 1920s detail—everything is marble and mahogany, and zeppelins are prevalent—with a fantastical drama involving a mystical invader known as the Ice Queen, who is hell-bent on destroying the city . . . and guess who’s supposed to stop her? The wackiness, deliriously inventive at first, eventually generates diminishing returns, but this will capture plenty of fancies, and Gopnik’s love of New York—a place where “it’s secret upon secret upon secret”—is infectious. Grades 4-7. --Daniel Kraus