Friday, June 25, 2021

Keeping the City Going written and illustrated by Brian Floca

Keeping the City Going
written and illustrated by Brian Floca
Atheneum  BFYR/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon and Schuster
2021, 40 pages
When we first heard about COVID-19, I used to lose sleep worrying about my Kiddo living in China and a mere 600 miles away from ground zero there. Than, before I knew it, New York became somewhat of an epicenter for the virus and almost everyone pulled in their welcome mats and shut down. People wore masks, disposable gloves, carried hand sanitizer and only went out when they needed to. Supermarkets stayed open, but restaurants closed their doors and had delivery only. Theaters and libraries closed and people turned to their Kindles and Nooks. Big Target boxes filled with toilet paper and disinfecting wipes littered apartment buildings lobbies, food delivery services like Instacart became even more popular, and Times Square, the crossroads of the world, was EMPTY. Hospital tents set up in the East Meadow in Central Park, and the Navy docked their hospital ship in New York harbor. But the buses and trains kept going, and essential workers showed up for work every day.

I bring all this up as a way to introduce Brian Floca's newest book Keeping the City Going. It is a homage to the essential workers who kept the city going through it all. Because behind everything I mentioned were/are people who went out in a pandemic to take care of us. And not just in NYC, but all over the country.

The book is narrated in the collective voice of some children looking out their window at their almost street downstairs, reflecting on how the city has changed, and Who the few people they see might be. 
Floca has really captured the essence of New York during the lockdown and the frontline workers that we so desperately needed - from bus, subway and taxi drivers who safely carried people from place to place, to the sanitation men who kept the city sort of clean, postal workers who kept the mail going, and even the utility workers who kept us in gas, electricity, water, phones and internet for our zooming and remote learning sessions.  

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the part about the medical and hospital personnel who worked so tirelessly to save the lives of patients who had contracted COVID-19. Probably because I come from a medical family, I really love how Floca pays tribute to all of them - the FDNY, the EMTs, the doctors, nurses, nurses aides, technicians, clerks and cleaners - because sometimes some of these essential workers were/are forgotten about. 

Floca has also included our nightly ritual of opening windows and cheering, banging on pots and pans, blowing horns and ringing bells in appreciation for the people who are kept the city going. 

In his signature style, Floca's watercolor illustrations are done in a colorful yet soft palette and are as beautifully detailed as the city he is illustrating. 

Keeping the City Going is a lovely tribute as well as a timely work documenting those days for now and for the future. And while Floca may have highlighted Brooklyn in particular and NYC in general. this is a book that can be read and appreciated by anyone anywhere who has lived through the pandemic days of 2020-2021. We were all in this together. 

This book is recommended for everyone
This book was gratefully received from the publisher Simon & Schuster.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an important book and one that people today can certainly relate to after the last year and a half. Thanks for the introduction. I definitely plan to check it out.


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