Nana in the City

Nana in the City

by Lauren Castillo


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A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book
In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 06/09/2014
“I love my nana,” a boy explains, “but I don’t love the city.” She greets him with a hug, but he’s still nervous. “The city is busy,” he says (crowds press in). “The city is loud” (a whistle shrieks). “The city is filled with scary things” (the boy shrinks from a homeless man holding out a cup). “It is no place for a nana to live,” he concludes. While he sleeps, nana knits him a gift—a big red cape. A series of vignettes shows him wearing it the next morning, striking delighted poses. With new courage, the boy discovers a city he hasn’t seen before—one full of life, wonder, and pretzels for homeless men: “It is the absolute perfect place for a nana to live,” he decides. Castillo (The Troublemaker) examines childhood anxiety and the crucial love of grandparents with sensitivity, while her portraits of the city’s challenges are honest and affectionate. It deserves a place on the shelf of classic New York City picture books. Ages 4–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Sept.)

From the Publisher

*A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book*
Huffington Post Best Picture Book about Family
An NYPL 100 Books for Reading and Sharing
A 100 Scope Notes Top 20 Book of 2014

* "[Nana in the City] deserves a place on the shelf of classic New York City picture books."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Castillo's soft, warmly colored art expresses the child's changing feelings about the city while also depicting the characters' close bond."

"A fine example of how firsthand experience can overcome initial fear."
—School Library Journal

"A rewarding picture book with a vibrant setting."

"The accessible story arc outlines worthwhile messages about openness to new experiences and changing one's persepctive, all couched in the security of spending time with a loved one."

—Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1—Nana's young grandson is excited about staying with her, but her new apartment is in the city, which, according to him, is "busy," "loud," and "filled with scary things." Nana, however, thinks the city is "bustling, booming, and extraordinary," and the next day, she takes him out to experience the sights and sounds for himself. Soon, the boy discovers that "busy" can be fun as he romps through Central Park, which is filled with people appreciating a fine fall day. "Loud" is actually enjoyable as he listens to street musicians and sees a fellow break-dancing to recorded music. By day's end, he comes to realize that the city is "filled with extraordinary things" and is "the absolute perfect place…to visit." While the child's account is related in brief text, the watercolor illustrations tell readers much more. They see him initially hang back as his grandmother leads him into the cavernous subway, hold hands over his ears and grimace at construction and traffic noises, and cling to Nana as a street person approaches her for money, which later becomes for him a friendly encounter when she offers the man a pretzel. Dark, graffiti-filled scenes change to a spread dominated by reds and yellows as the boy points in wonder to the lights, buildings, and bustle of the city at day's end. This is a fine example of how firsthand experience can overcome initial fear. Pair it with Lilian Moore's celebration of the city in Mural on Second Avenue (Turtleback, 2013).—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

Kirkus Reviews

A child learns to appreciate Nana’s urban environs.Nana has a new apartment in the city, and her grandchild is excited but nervous about visiting. “I love my nana, / but I don’t love the city,” she tells readers. Accompanying art depicts how the city seems “busy” and “loud” and “filled with scary things.” Illustrating the last point, the picture shows the child small and scared against a graffitied wall while following Nana and looking back at a homeless man who is begging with a cup held before him. That night, Nana listens to her grandchild’s fears and promises a better day, but she also describes her love of the city. A facing wordless spread depicts Nana knitting into the night; careful readers may recognize the red yarn from a title-page vignette of two cats with a ball of yarn. The next day, she gifts her grandchild a knitted red cape (the same one depicted in jacket art). This acts as a security blanket or magical talisman of sorts to change the child’s perspective of the city. Even an encounter with the previously “scary” homeless person becomes an opportunity for kindness as Nana hands him not money, but food. Throughout, Castillo’s soft, warmly colored art expresses the child’s changing feelings about the city while also depicting the characters’ close bond.A sweet story for country-mouse readers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544104433
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 369,483
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: AD360L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

Customer Reviews