Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Lost in NYC by Nadja Spiegelman, illustrated by Sergio Garcia Sanchez (2015)

On Pablo's first day as the new student in a New York City public school, his class takes a field trip to explore the subway. When he and his assigned partner get on the wrong train, and subsequently get separated, both must find their way through the maze of subway trains to the Empire State Building.

This book is a visual feast for anyone who loves to visit, or dreams of visiting New York City. The illustrator makes wonderful use of the subway map, as well as lots of interesting background details to teach a lesson about subway history and navigation, and to capture New York as it really looks and feels.  On the pages of this book are countless people, vehicles, and buildings, all bustling with the vibrancy and excitement city lovers associate with Manhattan. Reading this book is like walking through the city, or riding the subway - the reader is treated to all the same sights and experiences as someone who lives in New York. Indeed, the details are so vivid, they even bring to mind some of those familiar city smells.

Compared with some of the other Toon Books, this one is a bit more wordy, especially early on when the kids' teacher is giving his background information about the subway system. Still, the words take up considerably less room on the page than the illustrations, and every historical detail given is accompanied by an interesting picture - in some cases, even a photo - to provide the reader with proper context. There is also plenty in the story that kids can relate to - being the new student, feeling left out, and trying to make a new friend.

This book is an absolute must-purchase for libraries in and around the New York City area, and it will probably be popular in other Metro areas as well. Kids will love being completely immersed in the world of New York City, and those who have never visited will have a renewed interest after finishing this story. Very highly recommended for grades 2 to 5. For another recently published visual interpretation of New York City, also check out Marc Brown's picture book, In New York.

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