Marvelous CorneliusFall 2015 Picture Books
Inspired by the life of Cornelius Washington, a real-life sanitation worker in New Orleans' French Quarter, author Phil Bildner's heart-filled book tells the story of "Marvelous Cornelius," a trash truck operator who has a cheery word for everyone on his route and keeps the streets clean with artistry and flair, twirling trash can lids like spinning plates and turning his work into music. And then: "the storm came. The great city filled with water." It is Hurricane Katrina, and in its tragic aftermath, when Cornelius' optimism flags, all of the people whose lives he had warmed with his irrepressible, inclusive spirit, as well as volunteers and helpers from "Brooklyn and Boise, Baltimore and Bakersfield, Syracuse, Seattle, Santa Fe, San Antonio" join together to clean up and bring life back to their community. In Bildner's gentle, age-appropriate telling, Cornelius is a vivid presence; artist John Parra's exceptional illustrations are visual jazz.