We've been thinking a lot about the people of New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and keeping this city, home to so many stories, in our hearts. Christmastime always makes me feel like hopping on a train bound for Grand Central Station and enjoying the Big Apple in a big blue hat. Though Portland has plenty of lovely holiday offerings of it's own, I get jealous of all the city mice ice skating under the colossal Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, visiting Santa at Macy's, and watching the sugarplum fairies twirl at the ballet! To combat my winter wanderlust and in honor of the rallying metropolis, I revisited a couple of my favorite New York books this morning!
New Yorker Maira Kalman offers one of the most beautiful hustle-bustliest looks at the especially grand Grand Central Station in her picture book Next Stop Grand Central. She honors it's "stupendous star-filled ceilings" with her wacky paintings and introduces readers to all the important folks behind the scenes make the trains run smoothly 365 days a year! George Coppola, the stations police chief, deals with no-goodniks. Wanda handles complaints, of which there are bound to be many, since the station welcomes 500,000 people every day! We meet loads of oddball passengers rushing off on their weird outings. Ofir Weiss is headed to the Bronx zoo in a dino outfit and Millicent Bluebird delivers a lemon to a man at the Botanical Gardens!
Sasek's New York celebrates the city's huge fluffy squirrels and tiny hot dog restaurants on wheels! He depicts both famous landmarks and little things that make the city what it is. He remembers shoe shiners and art museums, tunnels, dinos, tubas, and many varied mother tongues. Besides boasting hundreds of languages, the city cooks up a zillion snacks from near and far! Sasek paints beautiful bridges and cityscapes in the moonlight! A wonderful symphony on one of America's favorite melting pots! Don't you want to have lunch at the soda fountain pictured below, where you can buy both a hamburger and a copy of Hamlet!?
Another absolute treasure is The Cricket in Times Square--the classic chronicle of a little country cricket from Connecticut who makes his home in a train station magazine stand, befriends a city cat and mouse, and sets off to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the city for the first time! This is the sweetest story, perfect for anyone who has ever felt little or lost in a new place! Also a treat for lovers of miniatures like us, as it's filled with things like cricket-sized strawberry soda floats!
"They were standing at the corner of the Times building, which is at the south end of Times Square. Above the cricket, towers that seemed like mountains of light rose up in the night sky. Even this late the neon signs were still blazing. Reds, blues, greens, and yellows flashed down on him. And the air was full of the roar of traffic and the hum of human beings. It was as if Times Square were a kind of shell, with colors and noises breaking in great waves inside it. Chester's heart hurt him and he closed his eyes. The sight was too terrible and beautiful for a cricket who up to now had measured high things by the height of his willow tree and sounds by the burble of a running brook."
Don't miss these other amazing books set in NYC--from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side, from the Plaza hotel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art!