Keeping the City Going

by Brian Floca (Author) Brian Floca (Illustrator)

Keeping the City Going
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Caldecott Award winner Brian Floca gives a heartfelt thank you to the essential workers who keep their cities going during COVID-19 quarantine in this tenderly illustrated picture book.

We are here at home now, watching the world through our windows. Outside we see the city we know, but not as we've seen it before. The once hustling and bustling streets are empty. Well, almost empty. Around the city there are still people, some, out and about. These are the people keeping us safe. Keeping us healthy. Keeping our mail and our food delivered. Keeping our grocery stores stocked. Keeping the whole city going. Brian Floca speaks for us all in this stirring homage to all the essential workers who keep the essentials operating so the rest of us can do our part by sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

With his signature affection for architecture and keen sense of urban space, Caldecott Medalist Floca pays tribute to the frontline workers helping to make New York City run during the pandemic. The book opens on deserted city streets bathed in soft sunshine as two tan-skinned children peer out from behind curtains: "Outside we see the city we know, but not as we've seen it before." The streets may seem empty, but there's important work being done--by transit drivers, mail carriers, fire fighters, and health-care workers, among others--and subsequent spreads celebrate an inclusive array of professionals through a sort of visual synecdoche in which vehicles represent the gloved and masked figures. In one sparsely peopled spread, an array of trucks, bearing images of bagels, fish, and other foods, stand in for those delivering "enough to fill the empty shelves." In another, a monolithic garbage truck appears alongside "the people keeping the city clean." Finally, celebratory images show what happens every evening at 7 p.m., when neighbors clap and cheer to thank "the people still out on the streets, driving this and that, going from here to there." Floca brings precision and expert draftsmanship to renderings of working vehicles, centering the heroes working to get supplies out and save lives, and to the equipment that helps them do it. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Brian Floca
Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed picture books Locomotive, winner of the Caldecott Medal and a New York Times bestseller; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11; and Lightship, each a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book. He is the illustrator of numerous additional books, including Avi's Poppy series. You can visit him online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2021
New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books

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