Best New York City Books

The New York Times’ City Room published an article today about the best NYC children’s books, quoting NYPL’s Margaret Tice and children’s literature historian, Leonard Marcus, among others. They list some great books in the article, but the comments are the most interesting part – I found myself repeatedly saying, “Yeah! Oh yeah! That one!” And because this is New York, there are a lot of people complaining about the Manhattan-centricness of the list. Yeah, I totally rolled my eyes because, as a newcomer to the city, I want everyone to just get over it. Anyway, here are a few of the books mentioned in the article and in the comments:

- Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
- Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
- New York’s Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne
- The Tale of Pale Male by Jeannette Winter
- The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein
- Harbor by Donald Crews
- In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
- How Pizza Came to Queens by Dayal Kaur Khalsa (my sources show that, sadly, this is now out of print)
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
- The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
- Wow! City! by Robert Neubecker
- Harlem by Walter Dean Myers
- I Stink! by Kate McMullan
- Abuela by Arthur Dorros
- You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
- Uptown by Bryan Collier

…And so much more! People really go nuts naming books in the comments.

I do want to mention that Olivia has come up a couple times in discussions about New York books, and I am compelled to say that I really disagree with this being considered a NYC book. I mean, really? You cannot say that, just because Olivia is sassy and into fashion, she must be a New Yorker! What, other kids in the country aren’t savvy, spunky, and precocious?! In my opinion, a NYC book must be evocative of the city, capture its vibe: the city must be its own character. And Olivia most definitely fails on this count. It in no way captures the vibrancy and energy of New York…and I just don’t buy that those aspects are embodied in Olivia’s character. Not to mention that, except for Olivia’s sandcastle rendition of the Empire State Building and her access to theaters and museums, there are no NYC landmarks in the book. With the enormous wealth of NYC books out there, Olivia seems like quite a stretch.

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