City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Bibliographic Citation
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2009. City I Love. Ill. by Marcellus Hall. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780810983274.

Image from Amazon.com (Click to view the book on Amazon)

Image from Amazon.com
(Click to view the book on Amazon)

Review
City I Love is written by well-known children’s poet, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and illustrated by Marcellus Hall. It is a collection of 18 short poems about various cities across the globe from London and New York City to Venice and Mexico City. All of the poems in the book are short, some shorter than others, but the descriptive style of each poem makes the book very cohesive. The layout of the book flows together but is not exactly uniformed for each poem. Many poems cover a double page spread while others do not, but each layout works for its particular poem. This book follows a little brown dog with a backpack and a blue bird as they embark on an international adventure. Not only are the poems appealing to a young audience, but also readers will enjoy trying to find the dog and his bird companion in each poem. Another fun thing about this book would be trying to guess which city the dog and bird are in for each poem. The images are gorgeous, but they don’t have the city name written on them, which is fun. Since school age children start learning about cities and transportation early on, they can relate to these poems, but they can also learn from them. In the poem “Taxi” there is a Double Decker bus with a British flag, Big Ben in the background, and the taxi driver is driving on the other side of the car. All of these images hint that the dog and bird are in London, but younger readers may not know this, so it can become a fun game.

Many of the poems within the book do not rhyme like the poem “Sparrow,” “Lucky to be born / on this balcony, sparrow / awaits city flights”. However, some poems, such as “Sing a Song of Cities”, do rhyme. This poem begins, “Sing a song of cities. / If you do, / cities will sing back to you”.

One of the things I really like about this book is how descriptive it is. Hopkins uses many adjectives to describe each city experience, and really gives the reader a feeling about each place. For example, in the poem “City Lights”, which is about Tokyo, says, “Blazing lights / flicker / flash / glitter gleam / twinkle / sparkle / bedazzle / beam / so / brilliantly / bright”. I also like the spacing in some of the poems and the way he uses the text to create an image. For example, in the poem “Snow City”, he uses the word “down” and the letters are descending.

Highlighted Poem

“SUBWAYS ARE PEOPLE”

Subways are people-
People standing
People sitting
People swaying to and fro
Some in suits
Some in tatters
People I will never know.

Subways are people-
Some with glasses
Some without
Boy with smile
Girl with Frown
People dashing
Steel flashing
Up and down and round the town.

Subways are people-
People old
People new
People always on the go
Racing, running, rushing people
People I will never know.

Activity
As a group we will talk about diversity. To introduce this concept to younger children I would use a crayon box, and we’d discuss how all the crayons are different, but they all go together in the same box. To reinforce that cities are full of diversity, we will read this poem aloud and discuss all the different kinds of people on the subway. The students will then make a mask out of a paper plate of one of the people on the subway that they saw today who is different from them.

Materials:

Crayons Markers Paper Plates Yarn
Felt Glue Scissors Fabric Scraps

Additional Information

Check out this book trailer!

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One thought on “City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

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