In the city by Holly James
Illus. by Hannah Tolson. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526616241.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Introducing young children to the delights of an urban environment will be enhanced using this vibrant, detailed and fascinating book.
As the city wakes, Oscar and Lucy set off, complete with backpacks, camera and a map. Each double page begins in the same way as they get on the train to go into the city, or have a picnic or look at the skyscrapers. "Let's visit the museum", for example, shows the children exploring this cavernous place looking at the art on the walls, the statues, the plants, the mobile and the dinosaur bones, while the book offers questions along the bottom of the page, asking the readers to look at something in particular. On this page the reader is asked to count the number of artefacts spotted, a new word being introduced.
Each double page explores the range of things to be found in that area of a city, and children will be delighted looking at the detail on each page, sharing with others what they have seen or would like to see, exploring the range of city offerings together, perhaps even planning their own trip.
My favourite page, "Let's cruise on the river", shows a small boat cruising down river, passing a range of other craft, highlighting the bridges, waterfront, walkways and buildings nearby. A question directs readers to look at the other things gliding along the water, while several words in larger font reiterate the words that are possibly new to the reader.
The family goes shopping and takes a train and bus ride, eventually heading for home and bed. A double page after the children have gone to bed, has images of a number of things and asks the readers if they were spotted, so ensuring the readers will go back and read the story again. And I can imagine the list of things noted and pointed out will far exceed the 22 listed at the end of the book.
Themes: Travel, Cities, Urban environment.