Asian-American author-illustrator duo Minh Lê and Caldecott medalist Dan Santat (Drawn Together) reunite in this jubilant ode to sibling bonds and the magic of elevator buttons.
Lê's brilliantly simple plot provides the framework for the tension between the real and imagined world of Iris, a girl with spunky pigtails and spiky bangs. Pushing the elevator button in her family's building is Iris's calling, and she loves her work. When her observant toddler sibling steals her job, their parents rejoice while Iris feels betrayed. A lucky chance provides her with her very own discarded single-button panel, which she tapes next to her closet door. When she wishes herself away and presses the button, Iris discovers it can turn her closet door into a portal to a tiger's lush jungle lair or a deserted space station high above Earth. As she hovers in starlit isolation, though, Iris hears her sibling crying through her spacesuit's radio and realizes "everyone can use a lift sometimes."
The minimalist text gives structure to Santat's illustrations of a bold and entrancing world. A mix of comic panels and full-page spreads create suspenseful page turns with gratifying payoffs. Light from the opening closet door stripes Iris's astonished face as she sees the scenes before the reader. Her expressions convey emotion beautifully, her eyes wide with wonder at the stars or stormy as her baby sibling pushes her buttons. Older siblings may relate to her frustration, but the central message that patience and inclusion yield their own rewards should resonate with young readers regardless of birth order. Bold and genuine, Lift is pure spirit-raising magic. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library