Natasha and I are rather excited about this post. We both love New York and we both love books (Natasha, in particular, is something of a literary fiend) and so when the lovely Ellen Schmidt of Baby Meets City agreed to give us a round-up of her favourite children’s books set in the Big Apple, we were over the moon. Ellen, who lives in New York with her husband and two daughters, Millie and Vivian, not only writes about everything New York-related on her blog, but also reviews children’s literature, so when it comes to discovering NY through the pages of a book, she really is the woman to know. From classic reads to a stunningly illustrated tome, here’s her pick of fabulous books that will beguile your children even if they’ve never set foot in Manhattan.
“The following is a selection of my favourite NYC-based children’s books, which I write about on Baby Meets City (amongst other things). After 14 years in New York City, I still believe in the magic of the Big Apple… and I love to see it come alive while reading my children bedtime stories.
The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber
“This is the house. The house on East 88th Street. It is empty now, but it won’t be for long.” I love those first lines from The House on East 88th Street, the first book in a series about the lovable Lyle the Crocodile. Though the exact location of this brownstone has been debated on NYC’s Upper East Side, there’s one thing that makes perfectly good sense: New York City is exactly the kind of town where a crocodile could take up residence.
Eloise by Kay Thompson
The iconic Plaza Hotel is famous not just because of its architecture, its history and the many movies that have been shot there, but who can forget about the little girl named Eloise who lived there amidst the pages of this children’s classic. Truth be told, I find Eloise to be in need of a good long time out, but I also appreciate her spunkiness and energetic personality. Having tea at The Plaza is a classic NYC experience, and you can’t help thinking about what Eloise would “rawther” do while dining on tea and macaroons.
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
I’m absolutely in love with the story of Little Elliot and his quest to buy a cupcake (and while doing so helps a stranger and makes a friend), and the illustrations in this book are simply divine. The author, Mike Curato, wanted to capture the romantic look of “old” New York, and he did a beautiful job. If only I could just jump inside the illustrations of this book!
ABC NYC by Joanne Dugan
There are not many children’s books that can qualify as a perfect fit for the coffee table, but the book of photography, ABC NYC, is one of them. Every letter in the alphabet is captured on the streets of New York City and done in a way that both adults and children alike will love. B is for bagel, anyone?
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Former New Yorker Mo Willems captures the beauty of Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods in this tale about losing his daughter’s prized stuffed animal at the laundromat. I love how this book (and its sequel, Knuffle Bunny: A Case of Mistaken Identity) combines black and white photography of Brooklyn neighborhoods with illustrations. In these books, Willems manages to capture the essence of Brooklyn and tell a hilarious story at the same time.