word craft


The Mayor of Central Park

The Mayor of Central Park

Harper­Collins, 2003
illus. by Bri­an Floca

buy the book 

audio book nar­rat­ed by 
Mark Nelson

if you liked this book, try:

What’s this book about?

Life is good for Oscar West­er­wit. He’s the may­or of Cen­tral Park—the great­est place on earth for the squir­rels, chip­munks, mice, and oth­er ani­mals who live there. He’s the short­stop and man­ag­er of his base­ball team. What could be bad?

Plen­ty! Big Dad­dy Duds, jew­el thief, all-around thug, and leader of rats, is about to take over the park. And when he does, the oth­er ani­mals who live there will be turned out of their homes. Every­one looks to Oscar to save the day, but he may not even be able to save himself… .

Story Behind the Story

Few writ­ers have names that become syn­ony­mous with a style of writ­ing; Damon Run­y­on is one of them. As my dic­tio­nary has it, “Run­y­onesque: lan­guage or imagery char­ac­ter­ized by plot or lan­guage sug­ges­tive of gang­sters or the New York underworld.”

Think of the musi­cal Guys and Dolls, which is based on his short sto­ries. Nev­er mind that Run­y­on was born in Kansas and spent most of his youth in Col­orado.  But it is rel­e­vant that I, a New York­er, while liv­ing in Col­orado, wrote The May­or of Cen­tral Park.

read more

Awards and Recognition

  • Pub­lish­ers Week­ly, 2003, starred review


Avi rein­vents him­self with every book, and this light­heart­ed ven­ture is no excep­tion. The time is 1900; the place is New York City’s Cen­tral Park … and the pro­tag­o­nist is a dap­per squir­rel named Oscar West­er­wit… .  Oscar tries to save the park from the rats. Maud and base­ball help serve up the thrilling denoue­ment and the whole thing is writ­ten in deli­cious peri­od slang … A quick, fun peri­od piece.” (Book­list)

buy the book 
if you liked this book, try: