Thursday, April 25, 2013


Agee, Jon. The Other Side of Town. New York: Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-16204-3. $17.95.

Jon Agee's whimsical book tells the story of a New York City cab driver who picks up an unusual fare. An odd little man, dressed in a strange green onesie-like suit with a pink tuft on the cap, directs the cab driver to take him to "Schmeeker Street," to which the cabbie responds confusedly, "You mean Bleecker Street?" No, the little man means "Schmeeker" street, which is one of the main roads on The Other Side of Town.

As the cabbie drives the man through the Finkon Tunnel during mush hour, the duo repeats the same game of words. The man says "nog lights," the cabbie says "fog lights?" The man says "Snooklyn Bridge," the cabbie says "Brooklyn Bridge?" And so on and so forth. There is little variation in the way the story is told, and when reading it, the repetitive conceit gets a little old. However, I can imagine that reading it aloud with an enthusiastic child would be a riot.

A caveat, though: that child would need to be familiar with New York City landmarks and lingo. This book, while charming and quirky, might have a limited audience due to how specific it is to New York. For children who live in New York or are particularly familiar with the city, this book would be a very fun way to talk about both real landmarks and nonsense at once.

Jill Coste

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