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Ever since Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians for a few pieces of wampum, New York City has been the subject of countless portrayals--in novels, plays, music, paintings. With the current popularity of children's books, many artists and writers in the field are using New York's tremendous diversity as a vibrant backdrop for their works.
Because New York seems to possess an intrinsic appeal for children of all ages, PW decided to examine the various ways in which children's books have evoked the Big Apple. The following assemblage is merely a sampling, and by no means exhaustive.
Perhaps one of the most famous--or infamous--juvenile denizens of New York is Kay Thompson's Eloise, illustrated by Hilary Knight (Simon & Schuster), the young urbanite who brought new meaning to the word "precocious." Eloise lives at the venerable Plaza Hotel, because "The Plaza is the only hotel in New York that will allow you to have a turtle." (If current plans materialize, Eloise may need to change her stationery to "Plaza Condominiums"--but will she be able to afford the down payment?)
The Plaza is only one of numerous New York institutions and landmarks that have been immortalized in children's books--a compilation of several can be found in Roxie Munro's The Inside-Outside Book of New York City (Putnam). Working in her Union Square studio, Munro enjoys a quintessentially New York view, consisting of "77 water towers--and the Empire State Building." Munro's intricately detailed scenes of the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick's Cathedral et al. resonate with New York's electricity and bear out the artist's sentiments--"We who live here take it for granted, but it's still the most magnificent city in the world." Celebrating the beauty and diversity of New York's seasonal attractions is Munro's Christmastime in New York City (Putnam), which opens with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and concludes in Times Square--just as the New Year's ball begins its descent.
Such lofty landmarks as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building are on view in Cat & Canary (Dial) by British artist Michael Foreman, who made his first NYC sojourn in 1963 and has returned "about 40 or 50 times." This droll tale …