Building Manhattan

( 2 )


A picture book for city lovers everywhere! Vibrant illustrations and a spare text come together in this striking picture book to tell the story of the building of Manhattan. There was a time when the city was little more than an undeveloped island. But as the small patch of land shifted from Native American to Dutch to English to American hands, it was built, layer on top of layer, into the bustling metropolis it is today.

With illustrations so detailed that one look just won't ...

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A picture book for city lovers everywhere! Vibrant illustrations and a spare text come together in this striking picture book to tell the story of the building of Manhattan. There was a time when the city was little more than an undeveloped island. But as the small patch of land shifted from Native American to Dutch to English to American hands, it was built, layer on top of layer, into the bustling metropolis it is today.

With illustrations so detailed that one look just won't be enough, this book explores the city's many layers and shows they're still visible, as long as you know where to look! A time line and bibliography are included.

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Editorial Reviews

James McMullan
…a cheery, colorful book that a parent could read with some pleasure to introduce a child to the basic history of the island.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Tracing the growth of Manhattan from a time "before maps or words were used" to the present day, debut author/artist Vila employs many lenses-geography, sociology, politics, ethnography. Likewise, her radiantly dramatic mural-like paintings present a wide range of visual styles and approaches: she offers readers both fisheye and a bird's-eye views of the island, and varies her vantage point from romantic idealism (a "peaceable kingdom"-like scene of pre-people Manhattan) to reportorial (the influx of immigrants) to surreal (a celebration of the city's traffic snarls) to metaphoric (the world's ongoing love affair with the Big Apple). But while her paintings are lavish, it takes her only one pithy sentence on each spread to convey both a specific moment and a sense of history and human ambitions: "Boats and boats packed with people, traditions, languages and new ideas clogged the shores." A formidable new talent. Ages 6-8. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
With just a sentence or two acting as captions on each double page, Vila traces the development of Manhattan from its formation long ago as an island through the earliest inhabitants and the arrival of European settlers to the building of the houses, bridges and skyscrapers of today. After the Native Americans, the Dutch make their mark. Then come the English, building a colony and a nation. Settlers arrive from many lands with new languages and traditions. Engineers build the ever-growing city. And "people still come. The building of Manhattan is never done." Vila crowds each double page with particulars of the time. The early forest has dozens of species next to each other; streets have crowds of working folk; rows of tenements display hanging laundry while paperboys shout below; the pages of twisted roadways and skyscrapers demand that we look up into the sky. And there is so much more, all designed to please the eye with muted colors and multiple details. All this visual information may make the city more attractive than it is while it loses none of its excitement. A useful time line and bibliography are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 4- "Long ago, before maps or words were used, a little island formed." This engaging picture book traces the dramatic changes that Manhattan has undergone through the centuries as animals, people, and buildings have filled it in different ways. Each spread jumps to a new era, with a sentence or two to describe the period and pictures that reveal much more. The art is rendered in a folk-art style, with purposeful shifts in line, perspective, and composition that give each spread a distinct feel. Strong vertical lines capture the "skinny row houses" of 100 years ago, sweeping curves show the arrival of more and more people in the mid-20th century, and a bird's-eye view of modern skyscrapers shows how "it grew and it grew and people still come." Though conditions change, every scene conveys excitement and wonder at the ever-changing, always-busy island. The broad tableaux include smaller details that fill in some intriguing specifics from each period, such as the mixture of automobiles and horse-drawn vehicles crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in 1909 and the many historical people and events represented on an 18th-century quilt. Sharp eyes will also spot a ubiquitous pair of mice. A time line provides further background, including dates, for each illustration. This is an effective visual presentation that introduces the history of Manhattan and also explores how places change over time.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR

Kirkus Reviews
In a sequence of paintings that are colloquies of color, Vila traces the development of Manhattan from uninhabited island to teeming metropolis. Applying paint thinly so that the texture of the canvas shows through, she emphasizes warm browns and yellows in depicting pompom-like trees and a rich array of wildlife, which then gives way in succession to early Lenape, Dutch and English settlers and to great waves of other immigrants. Two huge bridges span the East River, modern traffic fills a complex swirl of paved interchanges and tourists tote bags covered in stickers from all over the world. Perspectives range from high angles to vertiginous, straight-up ground-level looks at towering skyscrapers. Each picture comes with a one-line caption ("These settlers built a colony, and then a nation where new freedoms grew"), supplemented at the end with a brief annotated timeline. This historical approach sets her engaging debut apart from others of its ilk and will give young visitors and residents both some insight into how the city has changed over the centuries. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670062843
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 626,543
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Vila studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pratt Institute. She lives in New York City, and this is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    Beautiful illustrations

    This book has beautiful illustrations of NYC!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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