Today, February 1st, is the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal (simply called Grand Central by New Yorkers). This landmark in the heart of the Big Apple and seen in countless films – most notably Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, has elegantly stood the test of time. Being a former New Yorker, I have always had a soft spot for the station. For me it’s a time capsule and represents a bygone era when men wore hats, women wore gloves and the trains pulling out of the platforms held a promise of journeys beyond the crowded city limits.
As we celebrate the station’s centennial, we can once again enjoy all 32 pages of Maira Kalman’s praise-worthy picture book tribute in Next Stop Grand Central ($16.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, ages 4 and up). First published in 1999 and now re-released for this special occasion, Next Stop Grand Central is a festive and fun frolic through the fast-paced environs of one of America’s busiest train stations. And parents, don’t forget to show your child the entire book jacket, too, because Kalman’s zany sense of humor begins even before page 1!
This is just the kind of book my kids would have had me read over and over to them as we made new discoveries each time and discussed each one. Maybe the first time reading we’d notice Ed with his excessively long arm changing one of the KAZILLION light bulbs in the station. Maybe next time we’d ooh and ahh over precious Pete, the pup on his way to Riverdale to “cheer up Ida Frumkiss.” Kids will certainly get a kick out of all the activity on every page as Kalman’s comical artwork, depicting a colorful cast of characters, begs to be studied not just glanced. Kalman includes a lot of what is the heart and soul of the station such as the information booth and its iconic clock, the Oyster Bar, Vanderbilt Hall, the grand staircases, the star-filled ceilings and the marble floors.
Whether you find yourself slowly turning the pages to catch up with the many different people detailed in the book on their way to so many different places or you want to quickly get to the end to find out exactly how Kalman will wrap up her story, there’s no perfect way to read Next Stop Grand Central. All I can say is it just has to be read!