Actually, Amy Elizabeth never gets to explore Bloomingdale, but as compensation she sees everything in the city except the famous department store!
E. L. Konigsburg, of The Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler fame has crafted a charming picture book. The titular character in Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdales has come to New York City to visit her grandmother. Every morning grandma promises they will go to Bloomies, but they are sidetracked by other adventures which take them to Chinatown, the theater, the laundromat, and introduce the young visitor to bagels and lox, snow boots and hot chocolate at Rumplemeyer's (now I suppose that is replaced by Serendipity 3).
I like the way this is not your standard "tour of the city". True, the pair do visit some major landmarks, but we also get to see the unique characteristics of seemingly mundane life. For example, when grandma needs tea, she doesn't go to the supermarket, she goes to exciting and colorful Chinatown. When she wants a sandwich, she goes to Carnegie Deli. Plus, I always like books which portray positive relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents.
However, by far my favorite characteristic of this book is that every time Amy Elizabeth has a New York experience she compares it to her own life in Houston. When Amy Elizabeth, our narrator, sees a protest march she comments that in Houston, "when people march and carry signs, there is also a band, and it is a parade." In Houston, the newspaper is thrown into a driveway, you don't pick one up on the street corner. I've never been to Houston, so I can't speak to the truth of Amy Elizabeth's observations 20 years after this book was written, but no doubt, they will ring true for many small town or suburb dwellers. How fun to sit down with this book and ask your child to make her own comparisons and contrasts!
Konigsburg is author and illustrator (I never knew she was an illustrator!) and her colorful paintings will draw you into the experience while Amy Elizabeth decidedly does not explore Bloomingdales.
Enjoy your visit.
Read another blogger's review.
Read books in which the characters actually make it inside a city department store: Natalie and Naughtily, Milly and the Thanksgiving Parade and, of course, Courdroy.
Big Kid says: Can you make me some hot chocolate?