From My Window
From My Window
Author: Otavio Junior
Illustrator: Vanina Starkoff
Publisher: Barefoot Books, 2018
From My Window by Otavio Junior as gifted to me by Barefoot Books. This review expresses my thoughts on this book. This review is part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, occurring on January 29, 2021.
From My Window is a timely title from Barefoot Books, an independent children’s publisher that produces “…beautiful books that celebrate diversity, spark curiosity and capture children’s imaginations.” The book is based on the author’s childhood growing up in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. “A favela is a special kind of district in Brazil.” Instead of the government, “…the people who live in the favelas are in charge of them.”
The boy is confined to his apartment, much like many children have been during the pandemic. The favela is well populated as the boy exclaims, “I see people everywhere!” He describes the day-to-day life that he sees out of his window. The art and text weave together to create a vivid tapestry of life in the neighborhood.
The boy connects with his neighborhood friends via a telephone game, which “…turns into funk, turns into rhyme, turns into poetry.” The illustrations on this page depict the varied arts of Brazil. The boy watches the night descends with “…many lights and fireflies flashing in the darkening paths” and the rising of the sun. There are rainstorms and rainbows. And he experiences sadness when he cannot go outside or go to school with his friends, a situation children can identify with after living through 2020. He uses his imagination to cheer himself up – picturing crowds of people, a football (soccer) game in the packed stadium nearby, and others “…searching for their treasures.”
The artwork by Vanina Starkoff is what makes the Brazilian culture in this favela come alive. The artist includes myriads of colorful details: bright colors where appropriate, subdued colors when it is raining or turning into night. The text is sparse, allowing plenty of room for beautiful double-paged displays of the favela and its inhabitants. Take a stroll through this book to take in the sights and sounds of the author’s boyhood favela. Highly recommended!
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