Can a phone booth become a beloved urban landmark? Yes, when it's the busy Phone Booth on West End Avenue at 100th Street in New York City. Everybody used it: the businessman who was always running late, the cellist who kept leaving her instrument in a taxi, the birthday clown who could never find the party, even a secret agent, a zookeeper and a ballerina. The Phone Booth was very happy until his customers began using—cell phones! He is devastated, until the day a storm knocks out the cell tower and people remember the Phone Booth and its usefulness. They realize it is part of their neighborhood, and the Mayor even dubs it a hero. The Phone Booth is happy again. Without the drawings, the story might have little ring, but Dalton's flat-dimension, stylish artwork (reminiscent of mid–20th-century animation, only with a nicely multicultural cast) implies the city's energy and doesn't cutesify the Phone Booth. This modern tale may be as puzzling to kids as typewriters, but they'll find the Phone Booth appealing, and adults will appreciate the cautionary message. (Picture book. 5-8)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Evoking the same kind of New York charm as favorites like The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge and The House on East 88th Street, screenwriter Ackerman celebrates a humble phone booth (still standing at 100th Street and West End Avenue) that saves the Upper West Side--and vice versa. Fellow newcomer Dalton's retro vignettes set the scene with square-jawed men in skinny ties, Girl Scouts in braids, and assorted neighborhood clowns, ballerinas, and secret agents while Ackerman explains how things used to be. "Each week, phone company workers came to clean and polish the Phone Booth, to collect the deposited coins, and to make sure that its buttons were working properly." The booth has plenty of customers until people start holding "shiny silver objects" to their ears, puzzling the phone booth and eradicating the long lines of callers waiting "just to wish their grandmas a happy birthday." An electrical storm reveals the vulnerability of the cellphone network ("Hey, does this old thing work?" a construction foreman asks, eyeing the dilapidated booth), causing the locals to reevaluate its worth. Cultural history of the best sort. Ages 5-7. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3-5--On the corner of West End Avenue and 100th Street in Manhattan there stands an old-fashioned phone booth, a superfluous fixture in our cell-phone world. This lonely phone booth, however, enjoys a happy ending after an electric storm shuts down the city. Finding their cell phones dead but the landlines in working order, a grateful neighborhood rallies to save the booth after a city crew threatens to haul it to the dump. Ackerman injects humor into the tale through a bevy of characters from everyday passersby (a construction foreman needing more cement and a Girl Scout calling for cookies) to the eccentric (a zookeeper looking for a lost elephant and a secret agent needing to change his disguise). Dalton adds wit and color with illustrations that are a combination of individual vignettes and full-page images. A well-paced story but probably most appealing to adults predisposed to preservation projects.--Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA[Page 117]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.