City of Magic
Anne Schwartz Books, 2003
illus. by C.B. Mordan
out of print; look for this book at your favorite used bookseller or library
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What’s this book about?
Black-and-white images follow one after another.
The story of an immigrant family alone in a big city.
Close-ups of a mother, a son—faces filled with heartache and joy.
Plenty of action.
A silent movie.
Story Behind the Story
When I was a boy my usual Saturday Brooklyn mornings meant movies at the neighborhood St. George Theatre. Seven cartoons. A western. The March of Time newsreel, plus a chapter from some multi-part serial. Moreover, you received a gift for actually leaving the theatre.
For twenty-five cents.
For birthday parties my father rented and showed silent 16mm silent movie shorts: Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, among others. These films had a written aspect, what were called “titles.” The titles provided dialogue or narrative information. You had to read them.
Awards and Recognition
- ALA Notable
- Booklist, starred review
“True to the tender melodrama of the great silent movies, this picture book in black-and-white tells a happily-ever-after immigrant story from the early twentieth century… Clear, beautiful ink-on-clayboard illustrations … evoke the historical period as they tell a story about making a movie of the American dream. … Avi and Mordan both cite Chaplin as inspiration, and their book beautifully evokes the melancholy loner in City Lights.” (Booklist)