May 08, 2020

Going Up!

Written by Sherry J. Lee
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Kids Can Press
40 pp.
Ages 3-7
April 2020

In a jubilant story of inclusivity, diversity, and friendship.  Going Up! ticks all the buttons for a joyous read about making friends in an apartment building and accepting everyone as neighbours.
From Going Up! by Sherry J. Lee, illus. by Charlene Chua
Sophie and her dad are invited to Olive's birthday on the 10th floor of their apartment building. They bake cookies and take the elevator onward to the party. But getting to the party seems to be half the fun, because the elevator stops at every floor, taking on residents also invited to the party. There's the Santucci brothers–who look tough but are bedecked with cat and knitting trim–and Vicky and her partner Babs and dog Norman; Mr. and Mrs. Habib and grandchildren Yasmin and Jamal; Mr. Kwan; the Flores family; Vi Tweedle and her Chihuahua Minx; musicians Grace and Arnie; and finally Nori.
From Going Up! by Sherry J. Lee, illus. by Charlene Chua
As they take on new guests at almost every floor, the fit on the elevator gets a little more crowded but somehow there is always room to include everyone on the party elevator.
From Going Up! by Sherry J. Lee, illus. by Charlene Chua
When they finally arrive, the guests tumble out of the elevator in a glorious double-spread fold-out of colour and shape and spirit to wish poodle Olive, with her human mom, a happy birthday.

Going Up! will easily lift the moods of anyone who feels a little low. Whether on floors nearer the ground or the higher ones in this apartment building, there is much to elevate hearts and attitude. In fact, I suspect many people are currently relying on the same activities demonstrated as the apartments' residents–baking, gardening, knitting, pets, music, costumes and food–to help. We may not be able to all get together right now and celebrate birthdays in person, but Sherry J. Lee gives us the opportunity to see how we can revel in life with simple gifts of self. This is Toronto author Sherry J. Lee's debut picture book and its upbeat nature and depiction of inclusivity of all neighbours in an apartment building is a rousing kickoff.
From Going Up! by Sherry J. Lee, illus. by Charlene Chua
Charlene Chua, whose artwork I have enjoyed and reviewed numerous times (e.g., The Pencil, 2019; Akilak's Adventure, 2016; and Fishing with Grandma, 2016), brings that festivity to each one of her illustrations, which are rendered in watercolour, watercolour ink and coloured pencils before digitally completed with Photoshop.  She doesn't miss a detail, keeping Sophie and her dad's baking low-key and comforting in golds and greys, and amping up the colours and animation as the elevator travels up from floor to floor. Even the art that Charlene Chua uses on the copyright page reveals a little something of each apartment's inhabitants while the ubiquitous orange tabby cat enjoys some fish garbage.
From Going Up! by Sherry J. Lee, illus. by Charlene Chua
Going Up! cheers and rejuvenates, helping us all remember the joys of celebration with everyone, excluding no one, but also reminds us that there are ways to celebrate in which we might all partake alone. In tone and art, Going Up! raises all our spirits.

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