I have a soft spot for picture books with period settings. They generally make everything seem more romantic. Of course life in the 1930s was in no way romantic, but there's no need to be reminded of it in every children's picture book, right?
In Edward Sorel and Cheryl Carlesimo's The Saturday Kid, Leo loves Saturdays, because that is when he gets to go to the movies. After the neighborhood bully, Morty gets him thrown out of the theater, Leo spends his time day dreaming of ways to get back at him. In his fantasies, Leo plays out hero rolls from his favorite swashbuckler, gangster or flying ace films. But its Leo's musical talent lands him a real life movie role which finally puts Morty in his place.
From the opening image of Leo at the front of an El train zooming over glorious pre-war buildings, Sorel's book is jam-packed with city scenes. Small apartment rooms on fourth floor walk-ups always have city views, the streets are crowded, theaters are lavishly huge and the automat is a nice treat. Leo thinks looking into other people's apartment windows is just like watching a movie! I suppose that is one way to spin it.
There are some nods to the turbulent times of the 1930s. For example, Leo passes through Union Square, which is full of angry looking people making speeches. I also loved the end papers which show the staff at Loew's Paradise, from the Elevator Operator to the Chief Usher, all in their incredibly dapper uniforms!
View Edward Sorel's covers for The New Yorker or his website.
Cheryl Carlesimo blogs at The Huffington Post.
Big Kid: That is not what movie theaters look like inside.