Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

New York Wanderings Part II: Ferdinand in the Big Apple

Today's entry is a guest post by my daughter, Mary...

Hello Good Books for Young Souls readers!  We'll get to Ferdinand in a minute, but first I want to share a little bit about my love of New York City with you.

I remember so well my first visit to The Big Apple. I was 17, and it was November of my Senior year of high school when I embarked on a tri-generational visit to NYC with my dearest Mama and her mother, my Grandma . I loved the city that I had come to know through books, TV, and film. Experiencing New York first hand was intriguing. I embraced the energy of this "city that never sleeps."

Fast forward to now - as a mom of two young kids, I find that the city, though ever-diverting, can become exhausting and overwhelming rather quickly with my little family in tow. The constant barrage of sensory stimulation suddenly seemed way beyond just an energetic "city vibe" when my husband and I went on our first NYC excursion with our two young sons for a stroll from Grand Central station to meet a friend in SoHo, nearly two miles of city blocks south.

Since that initial and somewhat overwhelming family visit, I've tried to relax my standards a bit and focus on helping my family enjoy New York City, rather than becoming distracted by my "to do" list or trying to do too much in one day.

With the help of Mommy Poppins (an indispensable website for families), we tend to choose one neighborhood or destination to explore, bring lots of snacks to enjoy when our excursion is finished, and then find ourselves a special and renowned treat before we head back home.

So our visit with my mommy dearest, Good Books Grandma, followed much the same format. We decided to go to the Upper West Side (which we love, especially because of its prominence in Nora Ephron's You've Got Mail)...

Upper West Side

...and planned to spend the day trying new things like Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard's characters in Breakfast at Tiffany's, another of my favorite New York City flicks!

After enjoying a leisurely drive past snow-covered Central Park and a delicious lunch at a cute and kid-friendly eatery that we stumbled upon, we headed to the New York Historical Society.  (It's right next to the American Museum of Natural History - another favorite spot that my mom blogged about here.)

This was a first visit for both of us, and seemed like a great spot to soak up some local history and art, while also finding some fun for my boys. A big draw was the NYHS's Holiday Train Exhibit, which my three-year-old loved!


But what I had really been wanting to check out was the "Little New Yorkers" program in the NYHS's DiMenna Children's Museum. It turned out to be fantastic, and just the sort of "New York moment" that I had been looking for for my oldest son.

We arrived at the colorful and interactive Children's Museum (in the downstairs of the NYHS) a few minutes before their Friday 3:30 program began. My three-year-old had fun exploring the train table and making new friends...

...while my little guy helped grandma as she perused the wall of books in the Children's History Library. There were lots of great titles we found to read during our visit, many of them about New York and US History. (I loved the NY skyline mural which made this feel like a rooftop library!)

Soon it was time to begin the program, and after a fun sing-along song and short introduction to today's book with our wonderful educator, our group took a short field trip up the elevator to find a more fitting setting in which to read Munro Leaf's Ferdinand, which was the book selection for the day...

How perfect! While we listened to Spanish classical tunes softly playing throughout the gallery, our educator talked with the children about Picasso's "Le Tricorne" which is newly on exhibit at the NYHS. (Note the PICASSO signature in the photo below.)

Measuring roughly 20 square feet, this HUGE curtain (once meant to be a backdrop for a ballet, and believed to be Picasso's largest painting) really brought the bullfighting story to life for me. I can only imagine how much more so for the tiny people who were enjoying the story so intently!!

After finishing the story and discussing Picasso's painting, we took the elevator back downstairs to work on this week's "Little New Yorker's" craft: a bull mask, complete with a flower crown.

Because as we all know...

"he liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers"

Now, my oldest son has loved Ferdinand since he was about 20 months old. "Except I don't like when he sits on that lil' bee," he'll tell you.
Fair enough, my son.
Regardless to say, he took the task at hand very seriously...

"...there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand."

"All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their
heads together...but not Ferdinand."

"He liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers."

He wore his mask all day, and enjoyed wearing it all around the DiMenna Children's Museum while he explored the exhibits. (See that little bull horn peeking out from between the windows?)

And for all I know, he is sitting there still, wearing his bull mask, smelling the flowers just quietly.

He is very happy.

We really loved our visit to the New York Historical Society! We ended the day by finding some macarons from the whimsical and decadent Sugar and Plumm - Purveyors of Yumm for the trip back home.

But of course, what we enjoyed most was our visit with Grandma! I'll never forget how we found a quiet but engaging spot in the midst of the Big Apple, with a little help from Ferdinand!


  1. That's one of our favorite stories. ♥ What a fun story time together!

  2. That sounds like such fun! I have visited NYC a few times but was intimidated by the sheer vastness of it. This post makes me want to give it another try but maybe just focus on getting to a museum or two.

    1. Love your post Mary!! Sounds so fun!!
      You are as good a writer as your mom!!