When This World Was New

By Kirkus Reviews

Figueredo puts a happy face on the difficult transition of a young boy’s emigration to America from his Caribbean home. Danilito flies with his mother and father to an airport where strangers rush about. The narrator’s uncle takes them to a house, described in short, bland sentences. “We went inside. There was a living room and a kitchen and two bedrooms. All the rooms had furniture.” A few Spanish phrases are tossed in. The next morning, Danilito faces winter clothing and the prospect of school, daunting prospects until he and his father witness the snowfall. With that, an adjustment that realistically takes months appears to take place in a few hours, with the snow facilitating the transformation. The clipped sentences tell rather than show, leaving readers emotionally disengaged from Danilito’s plight; fuzzy-edged drawings, full of rounded shapes and soft colors, match the oversimplified, rosy picture of a newcomer’s life.