Windows

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Windows Book Poster Image
Artful glimpse of boy's walk in his neighborhood at dusk.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the variety of homes, architectural styles, and diverse people that can populate a city. Sparks creativity to invent stories of the strangers or neighbors framed in the windows. 

Positive Messages

People may do all sorts of interesting things in their homes, and you can catch a glimpse of their lives when they appear in their windows: "There might be a hug, or a piano, and someone might be learning to dance." You can feel safe walking in your neighborhood and happy to get back to the comfort of your own home. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The boy is observant, respectful, imaginative. His mom is loving and attentive yet gives him the freedom to explore the neighborhood on his own. His diverse neighbors are busy doing all sorts of things, including taking care of their homes (watering plants, sweeping steps), caring for children, walking dogs, throwing a party, watching TV, doing yoga, playing the piano, exercising, dancing, biking, walking a brother home from school. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Julia Denos' Windows follows the gentle journey of a boy walking his dog through his city neighborhood as night begins to fall. The boy is intrigued by the many lives revealed in the windows of his neighbors' houses and apartments and also happy to return to the comfort of his own home, where his mom greets him with a reassuring wave and then curls up with him to share a book. E.B. Goodale's wonderful art details a cityscape both vibrant and intimate and captures the luminous changing colors as the yellows and oranges of day turn to the purples and blues of night. 

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What's the story?

WINDOWS starts with a brown-skinned boy putting on his red hoodie to take his little white dog for a walk in his city neighborhood at sunset. The unseen narrator notes that you can look out your window at that time of day "and see more little windows lit up like eyes in the dusk, blinking awake as the lights turn on inside: a neighborhood of paper lanterns." The boy and his dog roam their familiar streets, seeing night-roving animals -- a cat and a raccoon -- and lots of his diverse neighbors framed in their windows. "Some windows will have dinner, or TV. Others are empty and leave you to fill them up with stories." As the sky darkens, he makes his way back home and sees his mom in the living room window: "Someone you love is waving at you, and you can't wait to go in." Once inside, he and his mom cuddle up together to read a book. 

Is it any good?

This unique, gentle, artful, poetic picture book tells the simple story of a boy walking his dog but makes a broader point about community and the safety and comfort of home. Referring to the boy as "you" is an interesting stylistic choice that helps draw readers into the spare, poetic observations.

With his red hoodie a nod to the children's classic The Snowy Day, illustrator E.B. Goodale uses ink, watercolor, and digital collage to create an inviting cityscape, changing colors as the light fades to night.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the boy sees in his neighborhood in Windows. How is what he sees at sunset different from what he would see in the daytime? 

  • How is his neighborhood like or different from yours? Take a walk where you live and see what stories are revealed in the windows -- from a polite distance!

  • What feeling do you get from this neighborhood? Does it seem nice? Safe? Friendly? What do you see in the art that makes you feel that way? 

Book details

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