- Age Range: 8 and up
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic (March 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0531300781
- ISBN-13: 978-0531300787
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,117,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Heart Of The City Hardcover – March 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Ten-year-old Joy is upset and fearful when in June her artist father moves the family from affluent, all-white Woodland Hills into a house he has renovated in a rundown, mostly black neighborhood in central Los Angeles. To her relief, she quickly makes friends with Neesha, the only other girl on the block, who shows her the ropes on Ibarra Street while tartly disabusing her of common white misconceptions about African Americans. When gang members threaten to deal crack at an empty house on the block, the girls take the initiative and by August turn the house into a work of art that unites the multi-hued neighborhood and keeps the enemy at bay. Koertge (Confess-O-Rama) presents an inspiring vision of racial harmony and community solidarity, along the way skewering prejudices liberal and reactionary, white and black. It is, however, a bit of a stretch to believe that one month of art and neighborly goodwill will keep the bad guys away forever. And observant readers may be dissatisfied that Neesha's important query, "Are you going to go with me, or are you going to private school?" is left hanging. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7?When her artist father moves 10-year-old Joy and her mother from suburban Woodland Hills to a mixed inner-city neighborhood, the girl feels as though her blond ponytail sticks out like a sore thumb and her mother is sure something bad will happen. However, over the summer Joy finds new friends, including Mr. and Mrs. Park, who own the grocery store across the street, and Neesha, who is her age. She learns to talk to the homeless man, Dimitrios, and to stand up to the neighborhood tough boys. When the relative safety of the neighborhood is threatened by drug dealers who want to take over an empty house, Joy and Neesha work together with their neighbors to drive them away. Koertge's messages?the vitality of urban life and the strength of community cooperation?overwhelm this book, which lacks the humor of his books for older readers. The neighbors are representative types rather than fully developed characters: Neesha's strict grandmother; Mrs. Santiago, a fortune teller from the Caribbean; Mr. Lossi, left over from the area's Italian days; the Korean store owners; Mr. Jardin, who distrusts all whites. Joy and Neesha, themselves, don't really come alive as distinct individuals. The neighborhood's problem is real, but the resolution is too pat, even if Koertge allows the girls to realize that the gangsters from Nasty Street may not stay away forever. Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks (HarperCollins, 1997) makes the same points more effectively.?Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
When they first move in, Joy's mother is afraid of everything. She doesn't want Joy to leave the house by herself, go anywhere, or meet any of the people living on their street. But Joy's father insists this is a safe neighborhood and encourages her to explore their little street. Joy soon makes a friend, a girl who lives near her but who is very different from her.
Little by little, Joy's family, the only white family on the street, is accepted and learns to love living there. Then some young men from a bad part of town start eyeing a vacant house on their street. The neighbors think they want to use it for a crack house, and that would affect everyone who lives there. Joy would like to save the house and the neighborhood, but is she strong enough to do it?
I liked the openness of Joy's father, the way he moved into this neighborhood of people so different from himself and just made his family a part of it all. I thought the reactions of Joy's old friend when she came to visit were pretty realistic. However, I didn't think it was realistic that Joy and Neesha would become such good friends so quickly. I think they'd both have prejudices about each other that would need to be dealt with before they could really be friends.