Picture books about cities
Five new releases remind kids why they're lucky to live in NYC.
Sun Mar 22 2009
The Curious Garden
By Peter Brown. Little, Brown; $17. Ages 3 to 6.
A chance encounter with the Highline, the abandoned elevated-railroad line that’s now dotted with trees and wildflowers, inspired this touching book by author-illustrator Brown (Chowder). Young Liam discovers a bright patch of nature where there was once only cement and steel, and with no prior green thumb, he proceeds to nurture a lush habitat. Kids will learn that it is indeed possible to make something out of nothing.
A Walk in New York
By Salvatore Rubbino. Candlewick Press, $17. Ages 4 to 8.
A boy’s first trip to NYC with his dad reveals whimsical details even seasoned New Yorkers may not be aware of (e.g., Patience and Fortitude, the names of the public library’s famed lions) without feeling too fact-heavy. The book could come in handy the next time you have out-of-town visitors—the locations of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges are duly noted—and it also serves as a fine tribute to what’s special about our city.
City I Love
By Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrations by Marcellus Hall. Abrams, $17. Ages 4 to 8.
This 18-poem collection beautifully captures the rhythms of urban life and celebrates the commonalities among cities around the world. Construction workers balance on beams as if they’re circus performers; when it’s raining, taxis never seem to stop; and subways are the epicenter of the anonymous experience, en masse (“People swaying to and fro/Some in suits/Some in tatters/People I will never know”).
Luke on the Loose
By Harry Bliss. Toon, $13. Ages 4 to 8.
Chasing pigeons is a familiar rite of passage for many New York City kids (right up there with having squirrels steal your Goldfish crackers), and Bliss (Diary of a Worm illustrator and New Yorker cartoonist) cleverly shifts the focus from little Luke’s boredom at grown-up chatter to the boy’s euphoric pigeon run through the city, and then on to his distracted dad’s total and complete panic when he finds his son missing. In other words, just your average day at the park.
Book of Cities
By Piero Ventura. Universe, $20. Ages 4 to 8.
First published in 1975, this spectacular collection of bird’s-eye views of 17 metropolises is enchanting. From the intricacies of the New York City Stock Exchange to the serenity of worshipers at a Kyoto shrine and the ubiquity of bicyclists in Amsterdam, Ventura’s attention to both minutiae and the big picture creates a true appreciation of major cities—albeit one that’s best digested in several smaller reading sessions than in a full-on cover-to-cover engorgement.