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Empire the Skyscraper in The Land of Man-Made Wonders

From the The Land of Man-Made Wonders series , Vol. 1 & 2

A two-part picture-book adventure told with serviceable illustrations, light humor, a gentle remembrance of a national...

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The Empire State Building leaves New York and takes a trip around the world, meeting other landmark buildings and spreading unity in the first two volumes of a quirky picture-book series.

It may have “Man-Made” in its title, but no human beings or other organic creatures appear in this two-part picture book, in which the only “living” things are buildings, machines, and other structures—including Empire, “the mightiest of the skyscrapers,” who “misses his Twin Brothers” (the unnamed World Trade Center) and wishes for peace in the world. Lady Liberty leaves her harbor to give Empire a pair of legs with a touch of her magic torch, and off he goes, crossing land and sea to form bonds with the world’s famous buildings and statuary. While the reference to “Twin Brothers” leaves it to parents to explain 9/11 (or not), the author executes his premise with a warmth that belies the book’s angular, architectural characters. He gives the story a dash of suspense (Empire is saved from drowning by the Queen Mary ocean liner after a lightning strike) and defines each structure with a simple personality reflecting it and its location in ways both obvious and unexpected. Empire receives advice from London’s “Big Benjamin,” dances with “Mademoiselle Eyefull,” plays chess (to a stalemate) with “President Kremlin,” and “sings a song of peace” with the Egyptian pyramids. Among other stops along the way, Empire is “enlightened” by statues at a Buddha convention. The first book ends with Empire’s nap on a “starlit beach” and continues in the second book as Empire wakes up to find he has company: the Great Wall of China, personified here as a smiling serpent. Empire returns home to finds a new friend—Freedom the Skyscraper—flanked by the spirits of his Twin Brothers, and all the skylines of the world join together in harmony. The book is illustrated with computer-generated images—colorful backgrounds, buildings with simplistic cartoon facial features—that are framed top and bottom by black borders; its white text is readable against the inky black pages.

A two-part picture-book adventure told with serviceable illustrations, light humor, a gentle remembrance of a national tragedy, and a message of universal healing.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-66117-8

Page Count: 102

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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