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

The Cot in the Living Room

A young girl is resentful each night as Mami sets up a cot in the living room for various children who need a place to sleep while their parents work the night shift. In their Washington Heights apartment that offers a view of the George Washington Bridge, the girl assumes that each child who occupies the cot is having a glorious evening—playing dominoes, viewing the city lights, eating a snack, playing with a toy, or watching television. Feeling short-changed and bitter, she fails to see that the children are sad and lonely, and they would rather be at home with their parents and sleeping in their own beds.  

On Tuesday night, no one comes over so the girl begs her mother to allow her to sleep on the cot. At first, she is convinced that she will experience a perfect night, but soon the unfamiliar pillow feels mushy and she’s convinced that monsters are growling in the kitchen. When Mami comes to check on her, they return to the girl’s cozy, familiar bedroom, and she falls asleep to “the music” of her older sister’s snoring.  

The next night, a little wiser and more empathetic, the girl welcomes Raquel, who will be spending the night. The girl and her sister set up the cot in their bedroom so Raquel won’t feel lonely in the living room.  

Illustrator Gaby D’Alessandro’s playful and reflective artwork gives young readers a view of a Dominican American community that helps each other out in practical ways, and author Hilda Eunice Burgos’ narrative follows the girl’s transformative journey from resentment to empathy. 

(Kokila) 

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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