I wonder in how many homes outside of New York City a book like Laura Godwin's Central Park Serenade finds itself? Do libraries in Phoenix or Dallas order a copy for their collections? By now this is a moot point, as the book is out of print. It must still find its way into the hands of many children around NYC, though, since I see the Brooklyn Library has 18 copies, several of which are currently checked out.
But, I babble.
Central Park Serenade is a serene book. Needless to say, it is a survey of the parks many features, from the horse-drawn carriages to the zoo to the sailing of toy boats. Barry Root's sunshine-filled illustrations (they made me want to start singing, "All in a golden afternoon...") follow a boy carrying his boat through the park as he passes many notable sites and activities, some grand, like the zoo, others small, like the ice cream carts. The text And the pigeons coo/And the big dogs bark/And the noises echo through the park is repeated throughout the rhyming text. There is a focus on the people and sounds of the park, rather than the inanimate sights: parents, drummers, baseball players, etc., which I appreciated -- after all the city park is what it is because of the people who bring it to life.
The end pages contain a map of the park. Maps are always a big hit with my boys. There are also many pictures with buses and taxis, also an important feature for my little guys. Personally, I was immediately struck by the fact that the protagonist of the narrative lives in an apartment in which his bedroom overlooks Central Park. That is some serious real estate. I wonder how many other New York parents notice the real estate in picture books. My own sons are still blissfully aware that their own view is not exactly going to bring in the big money.
I hope Central Park Serenade finds an audience outside of New York City as many of the experiences depicted are not limited to Central Park. Plus, I imagine kids in the country would enjoy seeing what a city park is like.
Try the picture book The Pirate in Central Park.
Early Chapter Books about Pee-Wee and his squirrel friends having adventures in Central Park are quite delightful. I reviewed the series here.
Read a book about Pale Male in Central Park. I reviewed three of them.
Little Kid says: Read the bus page, again.