laundry day

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning

A young boy tries to sell shoe shines on the streets of New York City in a time before cars, when the streets are crowded with horses and carts.  Suddenly, a red cloth drifts down from above.  The boy looks up to see rows and rows of laundry drying above the street, so he starts to climb with the red cloth around his neck and his small cat following behind.  As he searches for the owner, he meets people from all over the world.  There is the Chinese woman who offers him a mooncake after he helps fold some laundry.  A Ukranian woman with a wailing baby suggests he check with the Italian organ grinder who lives above her.  A family of Polish little girls try to get him involved in their games.  When he finally finds the owner, he has traveled the world in just a few buildings, sharing in treats, hearing a few words of their language.  His high-wire antics add a little spice to the story and a wonderful play off of old films.  This is an old-fashioned treat of a picture book.

Manning adroitly wraps international content in a comfortable package.  The various cultures shown in tiny tastes here are done with a gentle hand and an eye to history.  There is a feeling of merriment throughout this book, with never a fear that the boy will injure himself or that he will find anyone unkind on his adventures.  

The illustrations too have a playful vintage quality about them.  There is a freshness mixed with a timeless feel.  The freshness comes from the cartoonish lines of the art and the comic-like panels used on some pages.  It’s an inventive mix of modern and timeless.

This picture book mixes vintage and new, international and American into one wonderful diverse story.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.