City by Numbers

City by Numbers

by Stephen T. Johnson
     
 

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In this stunning companion volume to the Caldecott Honor Book Alphabet City, Stephen T. Johnson once again challenges us to explore our surroundings in a whole new way. Come along on his tour of New York City, and soon you'll discover numbers in the unlikeliest places. Look closely, and you can see a "4" formed by the outline of the Brooklyn Bridge, a "3" in the

Overview

In this stunning companion volume to the Caldecott Honor Book Alphabet City, Stephen T. Johnson once again challenges us to explore our surroundings in a whole new way. Come along on his tour of New York City, and soon you'll discover numbers in the unlikeliest places. Look closely, and you can see a "4" formed by the outline of the Brooklyn Bridge, a "3" in the curves of a wrought-iron gate, or a "20" formed by a gate and a window on the old Victory theater.

Editorial Reviews

Horn Magazine
The publisher informs us that City by Numbers is being reprinted for color correction and the publication date has been postponed. Two new number books place the emphasis on the shape of the numeral rather than the more usual concept of "how many." Stephen Johnson, whose brilliantly conceived paintings in Alphabet City showed each letter within a photo-realistic cityscape, has created a number book in the same vein. Unfortunately, most of City by Numbers is disappointingly arcane and eventually tedious as he takes the numbers all the way up to twenty-one. Johnson's palette tends toward the monochromatic, mainly in the gray and brown range, with a few notable exceptions. Number 4 is a glorious spread showing a suspension bridge at sunrise, the horizontal and vertical formed by the road bed and the tower, with long cables sweeping across the pages to connect the two. This is the sort of uplifting image that transfigured Alphabet City: simultaneously realistic and optimistic, urging the reader to examine afresh the shapes of everyday objects. But there is no such momentum in City by Numbers. The reader is frequently stopped short by arrangements that stretch credulity (paint conveniently peeling in the shape of a 2; a maple tree 16 showing a straight branch for the 1 and an awkwardly bent branch for the 6) or that take tremendous effort to figure out without sufficient reward (more "oh" than "a-ha!"). Johnson's painstakingly executed paintings are admirable, but the subject-matter is simply too narrow for this sequel. In contrast, Arlene Alda's 1 2 3 covers less territory with fewer restrictions. Lush, colorful photographs of everyday objects show 1 through 10 and back again. As she did in Arlene Alda's ABC, the photographer has kept the images and the format simple and accessible. The elegant design places all the numbers on each page, with the relevant number shown much larger and in a different color. All the objects will be easily recognized by children aged three or four: a tape dispenser for 6, a bendable straw for 7, the handle of a child's scissors for 9. Children should be able to find most of the hidden numerals, too, once they catch on to the idea, though a few pages may require help from an adult-one of the most clever images is that of a kite string forming the number 2, with an added bonus of another 2 sketched by the clouds behind it. Author's notes in the back clarify the images for those who are in doubt and provide bits of personal information. -Lolly Robinson
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
In his newest creation Johnson does for numbers what he did for letters in Alphabet City. In and around New York City, Johnson explores angles, circles, squares, and intersecting lines from unusual perspectives. The number five emerges form the shadow of branches on a brick wall, trash baskets clearly reveal the number eight, and two tall smoke stacks are easily recognizable as the number eleven. In each of the stunning illustrations, visual acuity is the key. Some of the numbers are not readily discernible but the imaginative observer who looks for the unusual will be rewarded. Insightful, playful, poetic, this picture book will delight older children and art students of all ages.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5--In this companion volume to Alphabet City (Viking, 1995), Johnson's photo-realistic paintings show the numbers from 1 to 21 in city details. Since these are paintings, the artist is able to tweak the scenes a bit; the number two is made by flakes of peeling paint, for example. Sometimes the numerals are hard to discern, as in the case of the 10, made of wavery reflections in a glass building, or the 21, created from lighted windows in a skyscraper. Tana Hoban's Count and See (Macmillan, 1972) has black-and-white photos of city scenes, but shows numbers of objects rather than numerals, as here. Bruce McMillan's Fire Engine Shapes (Lothrop, 1988; o.p.) provides shapes rather than numerals to discover, but uses color photographs of a subject with proven child appeal, as well as including children in his illustrations. Johnson's images are fascinating and make this book interesting to older children.--Pam Gosner, formerly at Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
In this wordless companion to Alphabet City (1995), Johnson joins the likes of Tana Hoban, Arlene Alda, and Donald Crews in his attraction to the numbers, letters, shapes, and compositions found in the architecture and infrastructures of outdoor places and public spaces.

From the Publisher
"Johnson's images are fascinating." -School Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670872510
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
01/01/1999
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.78(w) x 10.78(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Johnson's images are fascinating." -School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Stephen T. Johnson is a highly versatile American artist whose art spans a broad range of concepts, contexts and mediums including painting, collage, drawing, sculpture and installations and can be seen in museum and gallery exhibitions, public art commissions, and through his original award-winning children’s books.

Much of Johnson’s work is characterized by an interest in the alphabet and language, which began with his book Alphabet City, a Caldecott Honor and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year.  His most recent engagement with the alphabet is his ongoing series of “literal abstractions” which are the subject of his book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, also a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and featured in several solo museum and gallery exhibitions.

Johnson’s drawings and paintings are in numerous private and permanent collections, including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the New Britain Museum of Art, Connecticut.  Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, New York; the Katonah Museum of Art, New York; and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. 

Among his public art is a large mosaic mural at the DeKalb Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, New York and a 58-foot long mural at the Universal City Metro Station in North Hollywood, California.

Learn more about Stephen at www.stephentjohnson.com.

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