I live in a building that is seven stories high.
Every floor has a slightly different door.
Actually that’s an understatement.
Each of the doors is wildly different–in strange ways.
The door on the first floor has five locks and a surveillance camera. Who would want to keep other people out badly enough to lock all those locks? The girl imagines a den of black-clad masked thieves living in an apartment filled with exotic loot–including the marble Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and King Tut’s mummy. Even the baby’s tchotchke toys are enormous diamonds!
The second floor door always has animal tracks around the doormat. A tiger must live inside, with a former explorer, in an indoor jungle of vines. The third floor has only a bike wheel, but the imaginative girl envisions a troop of acrobats rehearsing inside.
When I reach the fourth floor,
the light always shuts off…
The girl hurries past that landing. Could a family of vampires be tucked within their coffins inside? Yikes!
The fifth door smells like pickled fish.
She’s sure a pirate must be living inside with his mermaid wife who has a taste for herring. Gross!
But the sixth floor door has musical rest symbols and wonderful music is to be heard coming from under that door.
At last she reaches her own plain Jane door on the seventh floor. It’s a bore, a total snore!
Her apartment has ordinary furnishings, and her parents are, well, pedestrian. The only excitement going on there is the decor in her own room. She loves her parents, but… nothing to see there!
But there’s a surprise ending for young readers with the final page turn. As the girl snoozes, perchance dreaming of exotic scenes, her parents are suiting up as caped crusaders, responding to a call for help from the red telephone and about to leap from their window into nightly escapades, in Einat Tsarfati’s The Neighbors (Abrams Books, 2019). In this funny and fanciful tale, it seems that the girl indeed comes by her fantastical imaginings naturally. Tsarfati’s lavish and humorously detailed illustrations are a delight to the eyes for young readers, with an ironic ending that is great fun. The girl’s imaginings are wonderfully elegant and extensive, but the last laugh is the best when artist Tsarfati reveals what’s been going on right under her nose in her own apartment.
Publishers Weekly praises this one, saying, “Tsarfati offers accomplished execution, sureness of line, and restrained, urbane humor.” Kirkus concurs with “Delightfully ambiguous and recursive.”