Kid's Stuff -- Books About New York
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"Home In The Sky"
Written by Jeannie Baker
Illustrated by Jeannie Baker
(Greenwillow, 1984)

A pigeon in New York City flies the coop and goes astray for a couple of days. A boy finds the bird in a subway car and brings him to his apartment, but his mother convinces him to let the bird go, since it is obviously tame and has a home. The bird makes it home safely, and rejoins his old flock. The story might not resonate with everyone, but Baker -- with her usual visual aplomb -- creates an intimate vision of New York in all its dingy glory. Cool collages. (B-)

"Central Park Serenade"
Written by Laura Godwin
Illustrated by Barry Root
(Joanna Cotler, 2002)

A beautiful tone poem showing a child's day in Central Park. When I first picked this up, I thought, Oh, the appeal will probably be too limited: if you don't live in New York City, why would you care? But the universality of the Central Park experience, along with the lovely, measured craftsmanship, make this a wonderful read. The text and artwork intertwine and complement each other, although the pictures provide a solid second layer of the story... For a day-in-the-park book, this one's hard to beat. Also works nicely as a "daddy book," since it's Pop who takes the boys to sail their boats on a languid summer day. (A)

"Lisa's Airplane Trip"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

Lisa misbehaves (but not too badly) on a trans-oceanic flight from Paris to New York... Considering that she was flying alone, she actually wasn't that bad at all! The mishaps (she stands on her food tray in order to see the in-flight movie) are unfortunate, but compared to other books in this series, pretty negligible... That aside, this book is a nice, friendly introduction to the idea of plane travel, and one you might like to use in preparation for an upcoming trip. As ever, Hallensleben's artwork is delightful, pulling you in instantaneously while imparting a sense of playfulness and delight. Recommended. (B)

"Lisa In New York"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)

The continuation of Lisa's Airplane Trip, in which the adorable-yet-vexing little French wabbit-girl runs amok in the Big Apple. She sees the sights, gets lost for a while, then is retrieved by her uncle, who she has come to visit. Of the books in the series, this one seemed to have the least purpose -- there was no real bite to it (for parents of a bold disposition) and it's another showcase for misbehavior (ruling it out for the more nervous caretakers...) I suppose if you've read the Airplane Trip trip book, you may want to follow up and she what Lisa does when she gets there... But I find life continues along just fine without us ever finding out the details. (C)

"Charlotte In New York"
Written by Joan McPhail Knight
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

The third book in Ms. Knight's Charlotte travelogue series. The other two take place in France (-)

"Didi And Daddy On The Promenade"
Written by Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Clarion, 2001)

A delightful father-daughter bonding book, all about a morning spent strolling on Brooklyn, New York's riverside Promenade. Didi and her dad run from adventure to adventure, talking all the while in their private language, meeting animals, watching musicians, playing with friends. It's an utterly joyful book, made all the more marvelous by Marie-Louise Gay's lively illustrations. I've read a lot of "daddy" books, and it's a real treat to find one that doesn't talk about golf, or trucks, or sports, or mowing the lawn. This is probably the closest any picturebook has come to capturing my own caretaker-friendship with my kid... Nice story about New York, too. Definitely recommended! (Postscript: yeah, that is the World Trade Center there in the background. Creepy, huh? On the other hand, you can also see Staten Island and the Statue Of Liberty, so I guess it kind of balances out.) (A)

"Subway Sparrow/Gorrion Del Metro"
Written by Leyla Torres
Illustrated by Leyla Torres
(Farrar Straus Giroux, 1993)

When a sparrow flies into a New York City subway car, four city dwellers from different ethnic backgrounds and ages cooperate to capture the panicky bird and bring it back outside to street level and set it free. One man speaks only Spanish, and a woman speaks Polish, but everyone understands each other as they work together to solve the problem. A nice, simple story about cooperation, kindness to animals and compassion in the heart of the big city. Nice glimpse at one of the world's biggest subway systems as well, albeit in a slightly shinier version than many of us might be used to. (B)

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