Prather’s Pick: ‘Nana in the City’ garners Caldecott Award
May 22, 2018
This week's picture book for young readers received the Caldecott Honor, a prestigious award for illustration. "Nana in the City" was written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.
The book's illustrations were done in watercolor. The main characters, a young boy and Nana, were done in bright colors, while most of the other characters and city buildings were painted in more neutral shades. Nana wears a yellow-orange print coat, a black hat with a red band and feather and red boots. She carries a red purse. Even her spectacles have red frames. The little boy wears a red and green-striped shirt and green shoes.
As the story begins, a boy and his father arrive in the big city. The boy is there to stay with Nana, who has a new apartment. The boy loves his nana, but he doesn't like the city. The two of them head for the subway where people — lots of people — are rushing to get a ride. It appears the subway is already stuffed with riders. The boy is not impressed.
The city is loud, too. A man with a jackhammer is busy tearing up part of a sidewalk, while another man directs traffic with a stop sign and a whistle. Besides that, there's a lot of loud traffic. The boy puts his hands over his ears.
Nana and the boy pass a wall filled with scary graffiti; some of the drawings appear to be monster-like. The boy has probably not seen beggars before, either. He holds tight to Nana as one bearded man holds out his cup.
Nana and the boy finally reach her apartment building, a gigantic building, indeed. Nana puts her key in the lock. The boy has decided the city is no place for Nana to live.
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That night, as they enjoy cookies and milk, Nana tells the boy the city is really quite wonderful. She likes all the bustling. Her apartment is cozy, with brightly-colored curtains, potted plants and two cats, one black and the other white.
However, the boy has trouble sleeping. There are too many night sounds in the city. Nana has been knitting something out of green yarn, but after the boy finally goes to sleep, she switches to red yarn. She has thought of a way to show her grandson just how wonderful the city really is.
By morning, Nana has knitted a rather large red cape. She says it is to wear on their walk in the city today — to see that it really isn't scary at all. One thing is for sure — when the boy puts on the cape, he feels differently. He prances around with the cape flowing around him. The boy feels downright brave.
So, this morning, the city is still busy and loud, and the beggar is still there. But, the boy sees the city in a different light.
This is a heartwarming book, and after sharing it with a young reader, it might be fun to compare city life with life in a small town.
"Nana in the City" is published by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014). The book costs $16.99 in hardcover. You can also find it at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.