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Friday, March 21, 2008

New York with kids

We took our two kids to New York for a long weekend. We reviewed all the books and movies we could remember about New York, and watched a couple of videos. As a consequence, their trip had a feeling of resonance and they felt familiar and comfortable with the BIG city.

Funnily, our 6-year old loved to say "Let's grab a cab," and both kids adored hailing them, something we don't do at home.

Here are some of the materials we enjoyed and the experiences to which they lead us:

movie: Ghostbusters - particularly for the New York Public Library. We all loved the library (and Bryant Park, right behind it). The original toys from Winnie-the-Pooh are displayed in one of their galleries. The reading rooms are awesome, and their shows are sensational. And it's free! The movie also got us looking up at the decorations on so many of the tall buildings.

book: Seen Art? by Jon Scieszka- created for the opening of the renovated Museum of Modern Art - funny and arty. Made for a kind of scavenger hunt through the museum for works we recognized from the book.

movie: Night at the Museum - for the American Museum of Natural History. This museum is the perfect fulfillment of the dream of a museum. Big, beautiful and romantic.

book: The Most Amazing Dinosaur, by James Stevenson - works for both the Metropolitan Museum and the Natural History Museum. Adorable book by a fabulous author/illustrator/New Yorker cartoonist (a wonderful category that also includes William Steig).

movie: Madagascar - for Grand Central Station (where we all enjoyed eating at the Oyster Bar) and for Central Park Zoo.

book and movie: Eloise by Kay Thompson - for the hotel experience, and Central Park

movie: Home Alone 2, Lost in New York - also for hotel experience and Central Park, and for Rockefeller Center

movie: Fantasia 2000 - for the city streets and for skating at Rockefeller Center

As we catch up with more suggestions, I'll add the good ones to this list, with comments.

Extra ideas:

movie: Enchanted - we dialed it up in the hotel room in New York, and were delighted to see New York as a "character" in this cute film

book: I am Pangoo the Penguin by Satomi Ichikawa - an adorable story featuring the penguins in the Central Park Zoo. This is now a family favourite.

Not New York enough despite our expectations:
book and movie: Harriet the Spy - a kid in the city.

The marigold asks nervously:
How long will I need to do this?

So I am adding to this list a year later with ideas that have come up:

1) movie: Desperately Seeking Susan - I have not seen it recently, and it may not be suitable for young kids. I'll have to watch it again and report back.

2) movie: Annie - I have not seen this recently either. It is OK for kids, but may be too dated to be useful.

3) movie: Crocodile Dundee - Definitely New York, not for the littlest kids.

4) movie: The Muppets Take Manhattan - perfect for the littlest kids.

5) book: The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - by E.L. Konigsburg, kids, New York, a museum, a mystery. All good.

6) book and movie: Stuart Little - fabulous book, by an icon of New York writing, E.B. White. So-so movie(s) but Central Park with it's pond features strongly.

7) Both Madagascar movies, but especially the first one, show New York scenes, with a focus on the Central Park zoo.

Some other ideas I have been given but have not checked out myself:
movies: The Fantastic Four and Antz

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