The Cot in the Living Room

The Cot in the Living Room cover
The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos. Illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro

By Hilda Eunice Burgos
Illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro
Kokila, 2021
32 pages

Ages 4-7

A young Dominican American girl is jealous of each child who stays overnight with her family while their adult caregiver works, not only because they get to sleep on the cot in the living room, but because they get her parents’ attention, special privileges (she thinks), and a view of the George Washington Bridge through the window. “It’s not fair,” she thinks when Raquel, then Edgardo, then Lisa comes to stay. The girl imagines each visiting child having a free-for-all in the living room; but the reality is that each child is anxious and homesick, although the girl’s parents provide all the comfort they can. Finally, on a night when there isn’t a guest, the girl gets to sleep on the cot, but the unfamiliar bed isn’t comfortable and the shadows on the wall are scary and she welcomes Mami’s middle-of-the-night reassurance. The next time Raquel comes over, the girl realizes how much Raquel must miss her dad after he drops her off. “It’s not fair,” she thinks again, before coming up with an idea to help Raquel and the other kids feel better when they stay. Clean-lined digital illustrations subtly but effectively distinguish between reality and the girl’s imagination, and use background color to reflect shifting feelings throughout this welcome, emotionally honest, child-centered story illuminating an aspect of some working/working class families’ lives rarely seen in picture books while underscoring the power of empathy and compassion, and the importance of community.  ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center