With New York City the undisputed heart of children's book publishing, more American children's book authors and illustrators live here than anywhere else in the world. Naturally it then stands to reason that New York Public Library might make the occasional cameo appearance in works for kids. Here then is a fun, if not thoroughly exhaustive, listing of some of the books we've found that may feel a little bit familiar to the kids of the city.
Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle, ill. G. Brian Karas - As New Yorkers, we're all familiar with what happens when a sudden downpour floods our city streets. In this Greenwich Village inspired tale, Manhattanites everywhere flee for the subways and doorways when the water comes down in a gush. And when they emerge what do they see? The gleaming clocktower of the Jefferson Market Library, of course! A fine rainy summer tale.
In New York by Marc Brown - Take a trip around the city and see all the incredible sights! In this loving tribute to the town we know so well, Brown not only makes mention of Patience and Fortitude (the stone lions that majestically sit before the doors of the main branch) but also the marvelous bathrooms to be found behind the library in Bryant Park.
Coral Reefs by Jason Chin - What starts as a routine research trip in the Rose Reading Room of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building turns into a raucous underwater adventure. If you've ever wondered what the main branch of NYPL would look like if whales crashed through its windows and the entire edifice sank to the bottom of the sea, now is your chance to find out!
Hilary & the Lions by Frank Desaix, ill. Debbi Durland Desaix - Patience and Fortitude get to star in their own picture book this time. When a visitor to the city loses her parents, she finds that at night those stalwart guardians of knowledge are willing to carry her back to the people she loves.
I'm Going to New York to Visit the Lions by Harriet Ziefert, ill. Tanya Roitman - Originally published in 2005 (before the Children's Center at 42nd Street had a chance to move into its current location in 2008) the book isn't entirely up-to-date on its library info but it's still a lot of fun.
Middle Grade Fiction
Under the Egg by Laura Max Fitzgerald - When 13-year-old Theo needs to research a mysterious painting left to her by her grandfather she heads straight to the Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL and finds a librarian there who is more than willing to help her with her quest.
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani - The most popular children's rooms in the New York Public Library system? Quite possibly the Chatham Square branch and the Seward Park branch. Yet for all their popularity they rarely show up in books for kids . . . until now! Indian immigrant Meena corresponds from New York City with a boy from rural Kentucky. In an effort to help him out, she makes frequent trips to the Seward Park branch of NYPL.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg - You remember the Metropolitan Museum of Art from this book, but do you remember the library? In the course of their research, young Claudia and her brother decide to take a trip to the Donnell Library, new at the time of the publication of the book.
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh - What happens at night when we're all asleep? The ghosts come out to use our public facilities, of course! In this gentle adaptation of the Orpheus myth, 14-year-old Jack meets a ghost by the name of Euri who takes him all around the best NYC haunts. Naturally, the main branch of New York Public Library is a big hit with the ghosts. Who would doubt it?
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor - A lot of time has passed since the original publication of this book back in 1951, but one thing stays the same. When the five sisters featured in these stories take a trip to the library, where do they go? Why, the Seward Park Branch, of course!
Some folks like it when they see their local branch on an episode of Law & Order or in movies like Sex & the City, but for me literary cameos will always be the best. What have I missed? Are there works of fiction for either children or adults that make mention of the library that you'd like to see added to this list?