Children's books about cities
September 28, 2005 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend children's books about great cities of America and/or the world.

A six-year-old who lives in a gorgeous and very rural area expressed a spontaneous interest in the urban (specifially, she announced of her block tower that it was "Chicago!!!"). Her very urban non-biological auntie would like to encourage this sophisticated young lady to understand more about the ways of big city life and the offerings of the great cities of the world. Could you recommend some good books for early readers (4-8 range)? An Amazon search has revealed the works of Martha Day Zschock but I would like recommendations of books you have actually seen or read. (Eloise, of course, is a given.)
posted by matildaben to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Madlenka's Dog" by Peter Sis. It isn't about New York directly but it is about living there. The story rocks and the illustrations will keep you looking and thinking for a long time. And then there's Miroslav Sasek's series ("This is London") too, of course.
posted by firstdrop at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2005

Maira Kalman: Next Stop Grand Central (among other titles).

Her wit occasionally wanders close to the acerbic, but I'd still regard her as one of the most creative writer-illustrators of young childrens' books today.
posted by skyboy at 12:16 PM on September 28, 2005

This Is New York, by Miroslav Hasek, may be a nice choice. He also did books on London, Paris, and Venice.
posted by Chrischris at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2005

The Cricket in Times Square. Thirty years later, I still love it.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2005

This might be too young for her, but I know a lot of 4 year olds who go nuts over this book, so it might work for a 6 year old too: Knuffle Bunny. It isn't about the city per se, but it takes place in New York and has gorgeous photographs.
posted by MsMolly at 12:43 PM on September 28, 2005

Make Way for Ducklings. It's a bit dated, but still a great book. Plus, you can go to Boston and see the statues.
posted by cerebus19 at 12:53 PM on September 28, 2005

Since no one's afraid of anything, this is somewhat unrelated but I really liked Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport.

It's about a boy who has to move from the city to the west coast and he's has a lot of fears about the west. At the airport he meets a boy moving to New York City who has comparable fears about his own move. It's cute, and very short.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:14 PM on September 28, 2005

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile lives in New York, where my children hoped to meet him. And Richard Scarry's books, especially this one, give a good, detailed look at life in a large town or city.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:35 PM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: Answering my own question, in part: Jenny and the Cat Club. I would like some about cities other than NYC, though, especially Chicago, Seattle, or cities outside the US.
posted by matildaben at 2:07 PM on September 28, 2005

The Saturdays, first in the Melendy Family series by Elizabeth Enright (interestingly, she's a relative of Frank Lloyd Wright). A group of 4 siblings, frustrated by the limitations of their small allowances, come up with a plan whereby they pool allowances each week and then take turns spending the pile. They call it the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure CLub (ISAAC). Each goes into NYC to spend an ideal day, and there's plenty of glorification of the city -- you know, idling along streets, mooning about your expreiences in the train on the way home.

It's a great series, but after this book the Melendys get 'ruralized' and move to the country. This first book is spot on, though.
posted by Miko at 4:59 PM on September 28, 2005

"Madlenka's Dog" by Peter Sis.

Also his The Three Golden Keys, a simply beautiful picture book about Prague.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2005

posted by Vidiot at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2005

David Macaulay has some interesting books - Underground and Building Big might be something along the lines of what you're looking for.

Amazon also has a Travel section in their children's book department. I've never read any of the "This is..." series but they seem pretty popular.
posted by srah at 9:00 PM on September 28, 2005

Paula Danziger's Remember Me to Harold Square and Thames Doesn't Rhyme With James.
posted by brujita at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2005

Sorry, NY again. My New York by Kathy Jacobsen.

But see also Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
posted by IndigoJones at 6:03 AM on September 29, 2005

My wife is a librarian and has a few recommendations:

For Seattle, Lensey Namioka's Yang books; start with Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear.

For San Francisco, I liked Laurence Yep's books about children learning ballet; the first is Ribbons.

They're a bit old fashioned (also good in it's own way) but I've always loved Noel Streatfeild's books -- Ballet Shoes is a good one to start with -- about London life.

Beverly Cleary wrote some great books set in Portland, Oregon including her Ramona series; Ramona the Pest is a good one to start with.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is about secretly living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in N.Y.C.. For an older New York, All-of-a-kind Family by Sydney Taylor.

Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell is a good look at the rougher edges of city life -- set in Chicago.

In picture books, Ezra Jack Keats seems to keep it simple but very urban. They were the first books I remember as a child that looked like where I was rather than an idealized farm.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2005

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