City Angel

Though September 11 is never mentioned in this poem about a New York-based guardian angel, its shadow makes Spinelli's reassuring urban lullaby shine all the brighter. But City Angel doesn't just nudge aside danger. She plants seeds "so a barren vacant lot / will become a garden plot," facilitates a swishing slam dunk on the basketball court, and slots in plenty of time for fun, city-style: "Skateboards cruising! Step aside! / City Angel hops a ride. / Pops an ollie. Whips a flip. /Airborne Angel--then--a dip!" Soulful mixed-media artwork by Brooker, whose buoyant compositions invigorated The Runaway Dreidel (1999) and others, accompanies Spinelli's chiming verses with graceful, energetic scenes of a winged child swooping through a multiethnic community; mosque domes and church towers stand shoulder to shoulder in the background. In a further celebration of city diversity, City Angel is African American--a refreshing departure from the lily-white heavenly hosts of traditional depictions.

Jennifer Mattson Copyright American Library Association.
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