New York City isn’t the every city

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New York is New York. London is London. Sydney is Sydney. Then why is it that whenever I observe books with an even remotely digestible urban theme, they almost 80% of the time take place in New York? Is there just an overpopulation of children’s book authors over there? I get it, New York is pure muse. But why should New York get the monopoly on introducing the urban to lil ankle biters? Every city should serve muse. (A review of one of my favourites here). If anyone knows of any children’s book set in the city not in New York, please comment below. I’d be happy to review it here.

With that little rant, onto this week’s book which takes place in New York. I know, I had to do it. Defuse the elephant in the room or in this case dragon.  Have you seen my dragon? by Steve Light is about a precocious boy exploring the city looking for his lost dragon. With all the embellished vitality that New York exhales, of course a dragon’s presence can be obscured. Steve Light takes us on a journey through the city using stark black and white line drawings on two page spreads. Such drawings provoke crayon/ marker/ coloured pencil enthusiasts. (I’m looking at you, adults.)  The only pop of colour on each page emulates objects as part of the story’s counting sequence. One dragon, two hot dogs…eighteen bicycles. By the time twenty lanterns are counted, mischievous missing dragon is found.

book-cover-thumbs-dragon-1-300x240Ankle biter 1 is into finding images in books and pointing them out. With twenty different objects, you think this would be a winner of a book. “Why isn’t the dragon green?” “The only green dragon is on the cover and the first page. He’s playing hide and seek.” “But there he is.” “I don’t think the library would appreciate you colouring it in…” And then he got frustrated. I’d like to say that’s his ankle bitingness. But my husband also found it a bit long “Ten paint pots. Wait, there’s more???” Maybe that’s a husband thing. Me? I liked it. A colouring book, a counting book, an identify the colour book, a guide map. And hidden gems! So yea, the counting objects aren’t exclusive to New York and can stimulate comparative conversations. But I suspect those who live in New York enjoy it just a wee bit more and rightly so.

[New York skyline: Top of the Rock via photopin (license), Have you seen my dragon?: Steve Light Art]

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Vivian Romero

I want to activate the urban imagined: stimulating, healthy and sustainable spaces for all (especially the young and young at heart).

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