Reviews for Uptown


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 June 2000
Ages 4^-8. Like the Myers' Caldecott Honor Book Harlem (1997), Collier's Uptown depicts scenes of Harlem life in lavish collages: a row of brownstones, shopping on 125th Street, the Apollo Theater, a jazz club, a barber shop, and more. But this time the text is accessible to a younger audience, and the voice belongs to a young boy instead of a literary adult. Each page begins with an observation--for example, "Uptown is a caterpillar,"--that is followed by a few lines expanding the idea--" Well, it's really the Metro-North train as it eases over the Harlem River." At times, the boy's voice is too sophisticated ("Uptown is a Van Der Zee photograph"), and there's little story, even though the book is classified as fiction. It's the artwork that takes center stage, the gorgeous, textured collages giving impressions of spaces and moments in the boy's neighborhood. Suggest this to elementary-school teachers in lower grades who are looking for new materials about place and home. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Fall
A young boy proudly takes the reader uptown to tour his Harlem, one of the world's most famous neighborhoods. From small intimate places such as the local barbershop to the world-famous Apollo Theater, the reader's senses are bathed in the sights and sounds that make Harlem this small boy's paradise. Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations, showing contemporary city scenes, are bold and striking, but at times they are too ornate for this lighthearted book. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 June #1
Collier debuts with a set of dazzling paint-and-photo collages paired to a child's tribute to his Harlem neighborhood. From his window the young narrator sees "Uptown" in the Metro North commuter train crawling caterpillar-like over the river; sisters inmatching dresses parading to church; weekend shoppers on 125th Street; jazz; Van Der Zee photographs; playground basketball; chicken and waffles served any time of day. ("At first it seems like a weird combination, but it works.") This complex, many-layered vibe is made almost tangible by the kaleidoscopic illustrations. For instance, the row of brownstones "…when you look at them down the block. They look like they're made of chocolate." Indeed, their bricks are photos of chocolate bars. Walter Dean Myers's poem Harlem (1997), illustrated in similar style by Christopher Myers, conveys a deeper sense of the African American community's history, but this makes an engagingly energetic once-over. (Picture book. 7-9) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Talk Reviews 2000 November
This delightful picture book is a tribute to Harlem and its richness of life. Collier's poetic descriptions of rows of brownstones looking like chocolate, the importance of the barbershop and the Apollo Theater, basketball at Rucker's playground, and shopping on 125th Street show Harlem at its finest. The author's powerful collage illustrations, in vibrant colors, display his pride in a part of New York City that is often disparaged. This title would be a fine addition to collections needing fictional materials on New York City or strong African-American stories. Recommended. Pamela Gelbmann, Media Generalist, Madison Elementary School, Blaine, Minnesota © 2000 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 June #3
Collier's (These Hands) watercolor and collage artwork effectively blends a boy's idealism with the telling details of the city streets in this picture book tour of Harlem. Played out to the refrain of "Uptown is...," a boy makes the rounds of his neighborhood, starting with the Metro-North train as it crosses the Harlem River ("Uptown is a caterpillar"). Readers see him shopping on 125th Street, where "the vibe is always jumping as people bounce to their own rhythms," listening to music ("Uptown is jazz"), playing basketball and more. From Van Der Zee photographs to the Apollo Theater to the Boys Choir of Harlem, Collier touches on a host of icons; he infuses the volume with a sense of community musicians improvise, men gather in a barbershop, a trio of sisters in matching dresses head off to church. The artwork creates an inviting visual riff with a pastiche of watercolor portraits, fabric scraps, photographs, wallpaper snippets and newsprint; and both text and art capture a child's sense of perspective and imagination (Collier represents brownstones that the boy thinks "look like they're made of chocolate" with photos of Cadbury bars that double as architectural detail). "Uptown is home," says the narrator, concluding on a note of affection and pride for his neighborhood that informs every page. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 July
K-Gr 4-A young boy provides a particularly inviting, personally guided tour of his uptown home, New York City's Harlem. The Metro-North railroad, chicken and waffles, shopping on 125th Street, the Apollo Theater, jazz, and summer basketball games at the playground are all part of his neighborhood's charm. As in Hope Lynne Price's These Hands (Hyperion, 1999), Collier's evocative watercolor-and-collage illustrations create a unique sense of mood and place. Bold color choices for text as well as background pages complement engagingly detailed pictures of city life. For example, the words "Uptown is a song sung by the Boys Choir of Harlem. Each note floats through the air and lands like a butterfly" are printed in bright yellow and blue on a deep red background. A closer look at the illustrations accompanying the lines "Uptown is a row of brownstones-They look like they're made of chocolate" guarantees a smile at Collier's clever use of Cadbury candy bars. While Uptown does not offer the adult intensity of Walter Dean Myers's Harlem (Scholastic, 1997), it does share its warmth and vitality. Looking from his window high above the sights and sounds of the city, the young narrator concludes, "Uptown is Harlem-Harlem world, my world. Uptown is home." From his perspective, it's the very best place to be, and readers will find it difficult to disagree.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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