It’s a wonderful town painted with wonderful pictures

No one would ever accuse me, positively or negatively, of being a New York person.  It’s not that I can’t appreciate it, or even admire it from afar–or from a-near for short periods of time.  I’m not city-phobic, and in fact am excitedly anticipating a 2-day trip to said urban metropolis very soon.  But my time in a city, especially one as large as New York, is generally spent people-watching, building-watching,  and occasionally humming to myself and rocking back and forth, repeating soothing words about trees and mountains.

That being said, I absolutely love this book.  It was a gift to my son from New York friends when he was born, and he has always been fascinated by it, even before he was old enough to understand anything he actually saw in the book.  One of his favorite things was the search games the back pages of the book encourage you to play with the illustrations.  And now that we are soon on our way to New York with family, he is SO excited!  In fact, he’s already planned the itinerary, strictly on the basis of this book (he wants to see the dinosaurs at the museum, the carousel in the park, and the scary ghosts.  I had to tell him that the ghosts were only there for Halloween, but he’s so excited about the dinosaur fossils, he didn’t really care.

Also, because the book’s plot is laid out as a girl going on an adventure with a map (the map is in the front of the book), he was adament that we bring the map.  He kept saying, I want to “chart the map” when we are there, which I assume means something important, and so to help him along, I made a color copy of the map, laminated it, and that will come on the trip with us (along with the book of course, but that will wait in the hotel room).  Lightning McQueen is also coming, but as that is less literarily relevant, I won’t go into detail about that.

Title: My New York (New Anniversary Edition)
Author/Illustrator: Kathy Jakobsen
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

The book has a painting for most of the famous landmarks, places, and events in New York city, including (among many others) the Statue of Liberty to the zoo, the marathon, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, FAO Swartz, and the Apollo theatre.  The story follows a girl who moves to New York and uses a map to find different places she wants to visit.  Sometimes a friend comes with her, sometimes she goes with her mom.  Each painting is gorgeous, colorful, and detailed, and many fold out to twice (or even four times) the size of a regular page.  So detailed, in fact, that you could read this book to ten kids as they grow up and probably not find all the details contained therein.  At the end of the book, there is a list of fun facts about the various places mentioned and also a small circle cutout of part of a painting.  One game is to find the piece of the painting that it came from.  Also, each page contains a hidden cat and many famous actors, politicians, singers, and others are disguised within the pages as well.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

This book really comes with its own suggestions!  The back of the book is filled with look-and-find games.  For the youngest, you can find the page the picture is on (this is more obvious with the labeled pictures), and the older ones can do their own searching.

One thing I love about this book is that it encourages kids to go on their own adventures.  Are there adventures that your kids can plan for themselves?  Or, if too young, take you on?  Maybe you can give them a day to decide on an adventure, and they can choose something (zoo, science museum, etc.)  Then you can get a map of your own town–or use the one in the book if you are in New York!–and head out to discover something new!

Because the book starts with the girl and her mom having moved to New York, the book can also be an example of a great attitude when moving to a new place and a great way to adapt–plan family adventures every week or every month to get to know your new location.  And of course, if your new location is New York City, or if you are just visiting for a few days, bring this book and get the kids excited!

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