An interesting book as far as it goes but I thought it had a rather flawed editorial. Each spread takes a particular year in the life of the city and hangs the text and illustrations round the chosen theme. Up to 1906: Ellis Island this makes sense but the remaining seven spreads seem rather arbitrary. 1930: Highs and lows; 1939: World's Fair; 1967 Pop and protest; 1969: Return of the Apollo heroes; 1975; Times Square; 2001: Ground zero and the last one Today: Modern NYC. The subjects for 1967, 1969, and 1975 are hardly momentous events that shaped the city. Where is the Wall Street crash, the subway system, politics and the UN, culture and the Museum of Modern Art? These seem more relevant than some of those in the latter part of the book.
The English author Richard Platt has written similar children's city titles which I assume are in the same format as this one with the main illustrations produced by an Italian studio. I thought these were interesting and quite competent especially those that require a lot of detail work. The pages contain plenty of historical facts presented in caption form or as items arrowed into the illustrations, which are mostly bird`s eye view.
It seems to me the book's format (choosing a particular year) rather dictates the content of the pages and this precludes events in other years that could be of importance in the history of the city but don't get a mention.
"Through Time: New York City" follows the growth of one of the world's most famous cities from Native American settlers in 1600 through to NYC today. Each beautifully illustrated double page spread depicts a different period in the development of the Big Apple. Each picture is clearly labelled and there are 3 paragraphs of information for each year as well as a map and smaller pictures with captions.
I particularly liked this book as it doesn't shy away from difficult topics like some children's books. Richard Platt deals sensitively yet in a matter-of-fact way with a range of issues which have shaped New York including war, slavery, immigration, poverty, segregation and terrorism. However some of the pages dealt with a specific day in history which I felt restricted the information somewhat and could be improved with more of a focus on longer periods of time such as different decades.
The introduction, contents page, index and glossary make it easy to find specific pieces of information and for children, from around age 7, to understand the history of New York, New York.
Although not a new idea, Peter Kent's 'City Across Time' is my favourite illustrated 'city story' book, this is a fine example of how looking at a city can teach children history, sociology and geography using an engaging format.
Although I have never been to New York, I felt that the illustrations gave a good idea of how the city looks today, and how it became one of the world's most important metropolises. The circular illustrations on each page are used for easy-to-understand, interesting facts and the larger illustrations have cut-away, labelled sections for an insider's view.
The inclusion of Ground Zero and a depiction of September 11th provide a history lesson on a major event that took place in the target readers' lifetime, and the final double page spread on NYC Today brings the story right up to date.
Plenty in here to interest the young mind and educate the parent. I would be very keen to see the others in the series.
on 16 September 2011
On first look this is an attractive book, well-bound and presented with, what is for me, a fascinating subject, the wonderful city that is New York. As a bottled history of the settlement that became the huge metropolitan icon that it is it works on a level. Clearly intended for a relatively younger readership I guess it works, but when my son and I looked through it it left us with the feeling that there was something missing. It may well be that the timeline jumps ahead frequently, although if NYC's history didn't have anything significant to report then that would be why!
Fascinating revelations include the violent disputes in the early years, the building of the community and its expansion, always referenced on the map to the original indigenous population's roots plus the site of the first settlement. More could perhaps have been revealed about the development of the city along the way, but on the other hand, at the level the book is aimed at, one can think of this as an appetiser for those who will then be inspired to research and discover more for themselves.
on 1 November 2010
The earlier books in this series (Pompeii, Beijing and London) have all been superb so I jumped at the chance to check out this latest title. The range and attractiveness of the large double-spread illustrations would be difficult to better anywhere. The challenge is to capture the overall story - rapid urban development on a truly epic scale - while anchoring it to individual lives. Details are picked out and there are two or three attractive small circular pictures on each spread to show specific points. All this works beautifully and Richard Platt's text doesn't shy away from difficult issues. Martin Luther King and the 1960s draft protests, the city's social meltdown in the 1970s and, most significantly, Ground Zero are all addressed very honestly, and in language that children from 7 or 8 upwards would be able to understand.
Of the four books published so far, this is the most politically charged; Kingfisher are to be commended for facing this head-on and producing a book that will stimulate thought and discussion without compromising on readability or entertainment value. There seems to have been a deliberate decision to exclude some of the more iconic tourist attractions, or at least to look at them sideways rather than head on. I was surprised to see nothing on the building of the Empire State Building - instead, Prohibition and the 1930s are represented by a Harlem street scene with Cotton Club cutaways. Similarly, the page on the Brooklyn Bridge celebrates the engineering achievement but also points out the sickness and terror endured by the workers who suffered from little-understood decompression symptoms down in the caissons, and rather than the usual cross-section of Lady Liberty we get an inside view of the processing of immigrants through Ellis Island.
My only reservation is that the narrative seems to change tack halfway through, as the overall development of the city is replaced by snapshots of politically or socially significant events. This does give it a slightly disjointed feel. But you'll never be able to include everything in a book of this size and Kingfisher are to be congratulated on an exciting and truly educational title. If your school or family library only has space for one NYC book, this would be a worthy contender.
The song goes "New York, New York, so good they named it twice". This book reminds you that it didn't start out like that - the first view is of the native Lenape people's settlement, before Europeans arrived. From there, Henry Hudson, the Dutch, and then the English turn up, and it all depends on your point of view whether it got better or worse.
Bit by bit, the green wilderness is smothered in buildings, Europeans (with their politics) and a great park surrounded by historical landmarks and events.
There are a number of very colourful 2-page spreads covering much of (but regrettably not all) of the key moments and places in the city's history. For example, the Brooklyn Bridge is featured, but I saw nothing about the development of the subways and elevated railways that cover the city today. And nothing about the great water-carrier tunnels which made New York possible.
A couple of the choices - a 1967 peace rally, and the 1969 Apollo astronauts' welcome back are nice, but the growth of skycrapers, and the docks might have been more significant. And what of the cultural contributions of the various immigrant waves? The Jewish, Irish, German, Russian, Italian and Polish groups all had their neighbourhoods and added different things to the culrual and artistic life of the place.
It might have been nice to have had at least another 5 spreads to enable these things to be included. Based on what is included, I am sure that the author could have made a very good job of them, but this is part of a series, and has to follow the publisher's format.
In short, it was very interesting, well-presented, appealing to everybody in the family, and a great - if brief - introduction to one of the greatest cities in the world.
`Through Time: New York City' is a childrens' book that attempts to cover over 400 years of history of New York. It does this well, managing to convey the city's physical, political and cultural development. Through it, also, American and World history is illuminated; interested children should also find a connection to their own lives.
The history is told through around twenty illustrated double-page spreads, that begin circa 1600 CE (current era, the preferred dating format of historians, as the book explains), with a Manhattan island populated by the Lenape Native Americans. A brief text describes their lives, with further details fleshed out with annotated spot illustrations. Further spreads use the same format to relate key events or stages in the development of the city. So we see the 'discovery' of Manhattan by Hudson and the development of New Amsterdam, right through to the development of modern New York and the events of September 11th 2001.
The illustrations are fascinating, conveying a real sense of time and place. They are well executed when viewed on a large scale, though are sometimes a little scrappy when examined closely. I think children will, on the whole, really enjoy poring over the pictures in this book.
Overall: a well thought out and executed childrens' history book, that has the potential for hours of reading. This is the sort of book I loved as a child and one that I'll keep for my own.
From the indigenous Lenape in 1600, Richard Platt's short 40 page history of the `Big Apple' is the fourth in the series and shows how the place came to evolve into New York City of 2010. Eighteen separate dates from the last 400 years are each given a double page spread to build up a history of the city in an easy to read and understand manner. It's also quite informative, even for those slightly older than those at whom it's aimed. (I didn't know the Hudson River was named after Henry Hudson, an English captain trying to find a way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.) Each section is shown its position on a small map so the reader can see its location relative to the others and the two pages is covered by an annotated drawing depicting the event.
There's a glossary at the end that namechecks some people mentioned in the text. Unfortuantely, all it does is repeat what you've just read within the main body of the book regarding those people.
One thing I noticed with this book is its use of the CE and BCE abbreviations in the timeline. Why use these in place of the more familiar AD and BC and then have to explain what these replacements mean (even going as far as to mention AD1)? If a book needs to do that, it suggests it might be wrong in the way it's represented.
New York as you have never seen it before. Unless you are an American Historian. Designed primarily for children this large format colourful book takes you from the original island, but only from the arrival of the Dutch, through NY various incarnations, up to the present day. What is interesting is just how small NY was for many years, really only coming to prominence and influence from about 1850 onwards. If you are planning a trip with your children, or just want to find out more, this is a good starting point.
I got this book for my niece and nephew, and am ashamed to say, I still haven't given it to them!
I found this book fantastic, great pictures and fact filled, and as a novice to New York (I go this year) I figured that this was a good place to start.
I like how it has started right from the early settlers and native americans, through to the modern day.
It has a fantastic and interesting lay out, and I am really impressed with this book!