Twenty-two typical and mostly iconic sights offer young readers a taste of the Big Apple.
This exceptionally sturdy and elegantly designed board book is a perfect introduction to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of New York City. Foster is both an illustrator and a textile designer. This happy combination of talents lends itself to engagingly executed images that are simple and tasteful in design but rich in small detail. Strong lines and uncluttered images stand out against boldly colored backgrounds, some monochromatic, others patterned. The Statue of Liberty, her robes, hair, and crown a deep blue, holds her torch aloft, yellow and orange flames bright against a rich, red background. The red fruit and green leaves depicting New York’s affectionate namesake, the “Big Apple,” stand out against a simple, repeating aqua-blue pattern. The omnipresent pigeon is transformed from urban nuisance to a thing of beauty by virtue of simple, complementary patterns and color on its wing, belly, and collar, the blue and gray of the bird highlighted against a dazzling, yellow patterned background. Text is confined to simple identifications of pictured items: “traffic lights,” “fire hydrant,” “pizza,” “pretzel,” “Brooklyn Bridge,” “Empire State Building,” and “hotdog,” for example. Though the book is non-narrative, the exciting and easily recognized images should make this primer on urban life a favorite. Publishing simultaneously, Jane Foster’s London offers the same pigeon in mirror image as well as a sampler of that city’s iconic images. The language is American: “mailbox” instead of “pillar box” or “post box,” “tennis racket,” instead of “tennis racquet,” and “rain boots” instead of “Wellingtons” or “wellies.” The plate of “fish and chips” depicts not a deep-fried fillet but an entire fish with staring eye surrounded by yellow rectangles and green circles (chips and peas, but not mushy ones).
Foster’s tour of New York is a delightful vocabulary builder; her London jaunt is a bit of a muddle. (Board book. 1-3)