The Mayor of Central Park by Avi, Brian Floca |, Other Format | Barnes & Noble
The Mayor of Central Park

The Mayor of Central Park

4.0 2
by Avi

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For Oscar, life is good in New York City in the year 1900. He's the Mayor of Central Park -- the greatest place on earth for the squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and other animals who live there. He's the manager of his baseball team, the Central Park Green Sox, and shortstop, too. What could be bad? Plenty, that's what! Big Daddy Duds, jewel thief, all-round thug, and


For Oscar, life is good in New York City in the year 1900. He's the Mayor of Central Park -- the greatest place on earth for the squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and other animals who live there. He's the manager of his baseball team, the Central Park Green Sox, and shortstop, too. What could be bad? Plenty, that's what! Big Daddy Duds, jewel thief, all-round thug, and leader of rats, is about to invade the park with five hundred of his closest friends. And when he does, the other animals who live there will be turned out of their homes. Everyone looks to the Mayor to save them, but he may not even be able to save himself from the invaders. The Mayor of Central Park is a rich and fragrant evocation of old New York, with a community of animals who are as lively as characters in a Damon Runyon story, brought to life in a blend of humor and heartbreak that is vintage Avi.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
This New York is brash, energetic and wittily translated to fit Avi's anthropomorphic world, while Brian Floca's full-page illustrations skillfully render both the characters and their park. In his elegantly detailed pencil drawings, a battalion of rats, armed and at attention, fills Bethesda Fountain Terrace (the angel of the fountain, of course, is here a squirrel); in another, the nattily attired Oscar hatches a plot in the dim bar of the Rock and Mole Caf�. — Andrea Thompson
Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW called this tale of a baseball-loving jewel thief of a rat who takes over Central Park in 1900 New York City, "an over-the-top romp." Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
When Big Daddy Duds moves his gang of rats from downtown Manhattan to Central Park, it is bad news for the residents. Oscar Westerwit, baseball fanatic and Mayor of Central Park as voted by its residents, decides to fight back with an army but soon realizes they are no match for these thugs. This early twentieth-century melodrama would not be complete without a damsel, but this one is anything but helpless. When Big Daddy's daughter, Maud, is jilted by her beau, Arty Bigalow, she leaves her parents' home. Maud, a nurse, gets a job working for a rich old goat in Central Park. When she hears what her father has done, Maud offers to help Oscar. She suggests a baseball game to determine who controls Central Park. Oscar's star pitcher, Arty Bigalow, is nowhere to be found on the big day. Much to the surprise of everyone, Maud becomes an integral part of the game. An amusing story with a teasing of baseball and a wide range of well-developed characters. When Avi's gangster talk is right on, it adds real color to the story. There are, however, some moments where it feels jarring and contemporary. Full-page pen and ink drawings are scattered throughout the book and will be appreciated by readers who have recently moved into chapter books. 2003, HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 10.
—Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This animal fantasy cum comic-gangster tale is spiced with some old-fashioned romance and set at the turn of the 19th century. The narrator, a cub reporter at the Daily Mirror, tells the story of squirrel Oscar Westerwit, acclaimed as the "Mayor" of Central Park. The story centers around Oscar's struggle against the rat Big Daddy Duds, when he and his gang invade the park, terrorize the residents, and vandalize their homes. The book opens with the star pitcher of the Central Park Green Sox going missing: the first sign that something is amiss. The resolution to the conflict comes through a baseball game, and the character who replaces the missing player provides a pleasurable plot twist. The lighthearted, almost frothy characterization and conversational storytelling style work fine, and successfully evoke a tough New York, complete with payoffs and tip-offs. However, the fantasy is less successful. Some animals live in trees, albeit fully furnished, even electrified ones, leading readers to believe that they coexist with a human-sized world. On the other hand, wealthy Mr. van Blunker, a goat, lives in a mansion on Fifth Avenue. It turns out that there are no humans in this fantasy universe, but the magic is broken, and readers are left wondering about the relative sizes of the animals and their physical environment. The inclusion of nonnative animal species, including a yak and a kangaroo, may be a nod to cosmopolitanism, but it further weakens the fantasy. Still, this is an enjoyable chapter book for readers not yet ready for the seriousness or more sophisticated humor of Poppy (Orchard, 1995) and its sequels.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Central Park's furred and feathered residents face an incursion of gangster rats in this turn-of-the-20th-century tale of baseball, interspecies romance, and ingenuousness triumphant. The sudden appearance of Big Daddy Duds and his well-armed thugs compels Oscar Westerwit, a bon vivant squirrel who considers himself the park's unofficial "Mayor," to take action. His ragtag "army" is quickly dispersed, but unexpected allies have been at work behind the scenes, and persuade Oscar to play on Duds's predilection for baseball by challenging him to a winner-take-all game. With Oscar's new heartthrob Maud making a surprise appearance on the mound, the good guys come out on top, of course. Told in rollicking, streetwise language, the episode rolls fluidly along, and aside from one wounded rabbit the violence never escalates beyond threats-but there's more baseball talk than baseball action. Avi can do better than this predictable plot, and despite his habit of calling park residents "voters," and Floca's natty Wind in the Willows-type animal figures, any satiric or metaphorical subtext is buried beyond recovery. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.

Brian Floca's illustrations have appeared in several books by Avi, including the six volumes of the Poppy stories and the graphic novel City of Light, City of Dark. For younger readers, he is the author and illustrator of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo II as well as the highly praised books Lightship, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and ALA Notable Book; The Racecar Alphabet, also an ALA Notable Book; and Five Trucks.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

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