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The Children's Bookshelf: Keeping the City Going


This is the Children’s Bookshelf and I’m Sue Ann Martin

KEEPING THE CITY GOING written and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Brian Floca is a superb picture book written in honor of all the people who kept our cities open during Covid lockdowns. In this case it is the author’s hometown of New York City.

Hundreds of tall apartment buildings with windows line the empty streets. There are no people headed for offices and schools. There are no happy sounds of children playing hopscotch on the sidewalks or frolicking in the parks with friends. It is unnaturally silent.

People look out from apartment windows to see the movement of those who “keep the city going.” Ambulance drivers head toward hospitals  and subways take health care workers to where they are needed.

The exquisite illustrations are drawn with great attention to the smallest of details. One of the most striking illustrations shows 18  trucks used in the daily effort to keep grocery stores supplied from big semi-trucks to refrigerated trucks to local trucks full of baked goods.

At 7pm, however, people return to their windows to celebrate these “first responders” with whatever musical instruments they have. They clap, cheer, sing, bang pots and pans, play horns and drums in a collective voice of thanks. And it is appreciated.

“We hear the city say to us-

and we say back to the city-

that we are all still here,

and we are here together.”

Keeping the City Going written and beautifully- illustrated by Brian Floca is a special book of thanks for youngsters 4-8 years of age (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and activity questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.    

Activity Questions for Keeping the City Going

If you wanted to join the 7pm celebration of thank you to those who served as “first responders” what would you use to make a noisy cheer? Find a musical instrument or some spoons and pans or make up a shout or a song. Practice it. Then let your parents and siblings hear it-------perhaps they will join you.

If you wanted to hold up a sign of gratitude for these “first responders” to see as they pass by what would your sign say? Think about it. Get a poster board and decorate your sign with that thank you. Perhaps you could put this sign up in your room---check with a parent.

Go on a visual seek game and find the vehicles that have the following numbers or words or pictures on them: 226, We Deliver, Dry Fruits and Nuts, 5C93, NYPD, a fish, Safety Service Sustainability, 436 and Riverside Dr. Have Fun!