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BUILDING MANHATTAN by Laura Vila Kirkus Star


by Laura Vila & illustrated by Laura Vila

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-670-06284-3
Publisher: Viking

In a sequence of paintings that are colloquies of color, Vila traces the development of Manhattan from uninhabited island to teeming metropolis. Applying paint thinly so that the texture of the canvas shows through, she emphasizes warm browns and yellows in depicting pompom-like trees and a rich array of wildlife, which then gives way in succession to early Lenape, Dutch and English settlers and to great waves of other immigrants. Two huge bridges span the East River, modern traffic fills a complex swirl of paved interchanges and tourists tote bags covered in stickers from all over the world. Perspectives range from high angles to vertiginous, straight-up ground-level looks at towering skyscrapers. Each picture comes with a one-line caption (“These settlers built a colony, and then a nation where new freedoms grew”), supplemented at the end with a brief annotated timeline. This historical approach sets her engaging debut apart from others of its ilk and will give young visitors and residents both some insight into how the city has changed over the centuries. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)