Beavers, oysters, and elm trees; the Lenape people, those who were enslaved, and those who immigrated; and subways, skyscrapers, and Superstorm Sandy fill the pages of a street-by-street chronicle of this incredible island.
Thermes opens with glaciers and moves on through the Mannahatta of the Lenape clans and the Manhattan of the Dutch and the English. Central to the formatting of both the book and New York City is the Plan of 1811 that established a grid pattern for the streets of the island north of Lower Manhattan. Central Park is developed, tenements are built to house poor immigrants, subways and bridges expand the island to neighboring locales, and tall buildings fill the horizon. Thermes does not shy from the violence of the city’s history, providing, for instance, an informative sidebar about Seneca Village, established by free blacks and destroyed by eminent domain to build Central Park. The highlights of the book are the many sequential maps, drawn in watercolor, pencil, and ink. They include, in very legible hand-lettering, street names and references to sites mentioned in the text. Horses, dogs, and young children, both white and of color, stroll along. Other pages vary from full-page vistas of Central Park, fires, subways, and snowstorms to spot art featuring bridges, birds, and the harbor.
The vibrant history that unfolds will hold children’s attention through repeated viewings. (afterword, timeline, select sources) (Informational picture book. 7-10)