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City by Numbers Hardcover – October 1, 1998
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 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
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From 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. Paintings show numerals 121 that are camouflaged by the urban cityscapes in which they exist. Discovering each number is an exercise in visual literacy: 4 is found in the lines of the Manhattan Bridge at sunset, 8 is formed by the round rims of adjoining trash bins, a 15 hides in the cracked mortar between bricks. Some numbers occur in the lines, curves, and curlicues of existing architecture, such as an iron gate, a fire escape, a cornice; others are created by negative space, for example, between stones on a snowy walkway or in the scraped surface and papery patches of a building's peeling paint. The subjects are similar to those found in the first book, although the colors, this time, are wintry and more somber. Children will relish the game of locating numbers, while adults will pause over Johnson's deliberate use of shape and color to influence mood. (Picture book. 4-10) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
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My first encounter with this book was when my five year old grandson pulled it from its shelf at the Children's Library. He plopped down on the floor and I plopped down right next to him and we poured over the paintings. Once we figured out the pictures were in order from one to twenty-one, and that there weren't going to be any words, we went to town playing number search. He got a lot of them on his own, and enjoyed getting the rest with some hints and suggestions. We both had a good time, and it was very rewarding to watch the little kid gears turning in his head as he searched the paintings.
Of course, this is all about shapes and numbers, but as Kirkus noted, it is also about visual literacy. We talked about photo-realist painting and about composition. And we had fun.
So, this is a game, a sophisticated introduction to composition, a bit of art instruction, and an all around happy book experience.
"City by Numbers" reflects Mr. Johsnon's continued attraction to cities for their wealth of visual possibilities. Mr. Johnson's idea for this number book evolved naturally as he was looking for letters for his (Caldecott Honor!) book, "Alphabet City."
Mr. Johnson includes a very interesting "Author's Note" inside this book. I think it is an extra blessing to get to know the author behind the book, so I am especially thankful that he includes these personal notes in his books. These notes have allowed us to get to know him better and therefore, we appreciate him and his work even more!
This treasure of a book is dedicated to the memory of Stephen T. Johnson's grandfather, John Theodore Johnson....whom he knew only through his beautiful drawings and paintings, which in turn nurtured his passion for art.
Add this one to your home library along with it's companion, "Alphabet City." You'll never out grow them!
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