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Keeping the City Going Hardcover – Picture Book, April 27, 2021

4.8 out of 5 stars 92 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2—A book from the first year of the pandemic. As children observe from their windows, "the voice of the city is low and the streets are almost empty." New York City is strangely quiet except for workers such as delivery trucks, taxi drivers, firefighters, and EMTs. Each evening, windows fill with people making noise to thank the workers and to say, "We are all still here and we are here together." Detailed color drawings depict the urban environment, its workers and their vehicles in full-page spreads with a few vignettes, alongside a matter-of-fact text. The postage carrier and the doctor gaze back at the reader, reinforcing the observational standpoint; these are snapshots of the essential workers who are "keeping the city going." An author's note provides further context. VERDICT A thoughtful book of gratitude for the essential workers with a nod to the unifying theme that we are #allinthistogether. An important title, it will open the door for discussion of the pandemic and its effects.—Ramarie Beaver, formerly at Plano P.L., TX


"An award-winning New York City author/illustrator thanks all the risk-taking essential workers. The evening cheers have stopped, but the gratitude has not. Essential reading about essential workers that is informative, reassuring, and positive." -- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED ― March 1, 2021

Caldecott winner Floca presents a love letter to New York City, and its essential workers, during COVID-19. Motion-filled vignettes alternate with expansive spreads to help pace the narrative and hold readers’ attention. The text is true to events but un-alarmist, with restrained lyricism that underscores unity: “We hear the city say to us—and we say back to the city—that we are still here, and we are here together.”  -- Horn Book Magazine ―
March/April 2021

With his signature affection for architecture and keen sense of urban space, Caldecott Medalist Floca pays tribute to the frontline workers helping to make New York City run during the pandemic. Floca brings precision and expert draftsmanship to renderings of working vehicles, centering the heroes working to get supplies out and save lives, and to the equipment that helps them do it.
  -- Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW* ―
March 1, 2021

An ode to the city workers keeping New York City going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With lyrical text and exquisite, detailed illustrations, Floca reminds readers of the early days of the pandemic with an empty city street. Well, almost empty. A hint of movement in these opening scenes turns into a full-page spread with food deliverers on bikes. Of course, first responders—the fire department, police officers, ambulance drivers, and health care workers—are depicted prominently, but so too are the workers who suddenly become frontline service and care. A moving tribute that remembers essential workers and community in a time of loss.
  -- Booklist STARRED Review ―
April 1, 2021

The ragged-right prose is compact yet gentle, focusing on the cultural rhythm and infrastructure of pandemic life without talking about COVID itself, adding character with small details about things like non-essential mail orders and insight into the importance of even pandemic-altered human contact. Line and watercolor illustrations are trim and careful, with the usual Floca tendency toward technical detail adding intricate majesty to garbage trucks and subway trains. Kids outside of New York may not be familiar with the evening applause custom, but they’ll appreciate the focus on essential work and reflection of their daily norms of online life and face-mask wearing. -- BCCB ―
April 1, 2021

 A thoughtful book of gratitude for the essential workers with a nod to the unifying theme that we are #allinthistogether. An important title, it will open the door for discussion of the pandemic and its effects.–Ramarie Beaver, formerly at Plano P.L., TX -- School Library Journal ―
June 2021
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (April 27, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1534493778
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534493773
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 4 - 8 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ AD630L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ Preschool - 3
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 92 ratings

About the author

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Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of Locomotive, winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (revised and expanded in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing); Lightship; The Racecar Alphabet; and Five Trucks. His most recent book is Keeping the City Going, a tribute to healthcare and other essential workers who stayed on the streets and on the job during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brian has illustrated Avi's Poppy Stories series, Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan's Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, Laura Amy Schlitz's Princess Cora and the Crocodile, Maria Gianferrari's Hawk Rising, and other titles.

In addition to the Caldecott Medal, Brian's books have received four Robert F. Sibert Honor awards for distinguished informational books, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, and have three times been selected for the annual New York Times Best Illustrated Books list.

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
92 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 29, 2021
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 8, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Tribute to Essential Workers
By Laura Harrison on August 8, 2021
Keeping the City Going is one of my top favorite choices for winning a 2022 Caldecott medal. It is a heartfelt work based on Floca's observations of New York during the early pandemic days. The book is a wonderful tribute to the essential workers. I overheard a hospital worker tell Mr. Floca at a recent book signing how much the book meant to her. For essential workers and most New Yorkers, this title is very personal to us. Almost like a journal with drawings. New York was hit so hard with the pandemic. Amid all the fear and uncertainty, there were heroes out there. A lot of them. The doctors, nurses, service people in so many different fields, showed up and performed their duties so the rest of us would be safe. Brian Floca conveys this very well. He even notes how at 7pm we would make noise outside our houses and apartment windows and balconies to show appreciation for the hospital workers. Every person, vehicle, you name it, is rendered meticulously in ink, watercolor, goache and acryclic. I truly love Keeping the City Going. It is a timely, remarkable work.
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 27, 2022