Don’t you just love the serendipitous discovery that one of your favorite picture books of the previous year that you already have scheduled for this Friday’s Perfect Picture Books just happens to have won a well deserved Caldecott Honor Award this week??!!
Title: Nana IN THE City
Written and illustrated by: Lauren Castillo
Published by: Clarion Books, 2014
Themes/Topics: city life, nanas, red capes
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Awards: Caldecott Honor, 2015
I went to stay with Nana at her new apartment in the city.
A little boy goes to visit his nana in her new city apartment. His first trip out into this urban world leaves him overwhelmed by the noise and dirt and he worries that the city may not be a great place for his nana to be living. A nana-made, special red cape the next day and Nana’s promise to show him how wonderful her city is transforms the next day, when even Times Square seems extraordinary to this little boy.
Why I like This Book:
- It is New York! From the first double paged-spread of Brooklyn Bridge spanning the Hudson to Manhattan, to the pretzel stand and almost being run over by cyclists in Central Park.
- Who can resist such a spunky, creative, fun-loving nana?
- Many things in life can appear scary from a child’s perspective including a large metropolis appearing an unsuitable place for one’s grandma. Grandma’s red cape and reassurances help change this child’s perspective from one of fear to awe.
- It is a story with a quiet narrative arc that packs a punch (which I welcome).
- The starker, darker color choices at the beginning give way to the thematic red and other bright, warm colors as the boy’s perspective changes.
- I wouldn’t mind one of these cityscapes in my living room.
- The city is busy and the city is loud are repeated three times with a wonderful transformation of meaning.
- The precious vignettes of nana and grandchild, mastery of line, ink and charcoal drawings and choice of blocks of color render these cityscapes both grandiose and intimate. Brava, Lauren, in a great award winning story.
Exactly a year ago in January 2014, I did an interview with Lauren as part of my illustrator interview series and she shares much of her process in creating Nana in the City here.
Discuss with children why the red cape makes such a difference! And in what situations would they want to put on their red capes?
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.