Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island by Jennifer Thermes
Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island
Review Copy from Abrams Kids
No matter where you live or if you have even been to Manhattan, Jennifer Thermes' has created a stunningly illustrated, fascinating slice of history in her picture book, Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island, that is sure to entertain and educate. As the title suggests, Thermes tells the story of the centuries of constant change through detailed maps, inspired by historic archives. Beginning with glaciers melting, then moving on to the Lenape, who called the island Manhatta, which means "island of many hills," Thermes builds up to the Commissioners' Grid Plan of 1811. Thermes, who notably includes people of color in almost every illustration (including the sister and brother, seen above, who travel through time in this book), does not shy away from the darker parts of the island's history, especially with sidebars. This includes the Collect Pond, where, in the 1700s, free Africans, not allowed to be buried in the public cemetery, buried their loved ones. Collect Pond became polluted by tanneries, breweries and slaughterhouses, eventually being filled in and built over. In 1991, while excavating to build a new federal office building, human bones were found and in 2006 the African Burial Ground became a National Monument. Thermes devotes a page to the destruction of Seneca Village, one of the island's first middle-class African American (land owning and therefore voting) communities, in 1857 when it was declared eminent domain in order to make way for Central Park. Immigration, the Gilded Age, the subway, the bridges and skyscrapers (with a special illustration of the World Trace Center) and Hurricane Sandy are also featured. An afterword tells the story of a tree that can be seen in an oval frame throughout the book - the 350 year old Hangman's Elm in Washington Square Park.
With color and movement bursting from each page, readers will pore over this book again and again! Back matter includes a detailed timeline and selected sources, including books, museums, websites and a podcast.
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