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Pickle Me This

March 25, 2014

How Little Lori Visited Times Square

how-little-lori-visited-times-square

The best thing about the Lillian H. Smith Library is that its collection was born out of the Toronto Library’s Boys and Girls House, which opened in 1923, and therefore a trip through the stacks reveals all kinds of vintage gems. Our favourite fruit of Saturday’s visit is How Little Lori Visited Times Square by Amos Vogel and illustrated my Maurice Sendak (which I came across whilst browsing for Viorst).

It’s a book with a warning label: “This is a very funny book and should not be read while drinking orange juice, or you will spill it!” 

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This is the only picture book by Vogel, who was known for his work in cinema and as author of the book, Film as a Subversive Art. Maurice Sendak is, of course, Maurice Sendak. And oh, this book is weird and terrific.

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It’s about a little boy called Lori whose bedroom decor suggests a strong affinity for vehicles of all kinds. He decides one day to go to Times Square, but every route he takes brings him to somewhere different. This is a frustrating process for him–a helicopter delivers him to Idlewild Airport; the elevates subway to his Uncle’s house in Queens. The city in the background is a crowded place, populated by curious characters and decorated with billboards and signs whose words add a marvellous subtext and might be some kind of comment on consumerism but I can’t quite decide which. Potato Chip stores and Peanut butter stores, signs exclaiming, “Buy Now!”, and an ad on the side of the bus: “Don’t walk on the pigeons.”

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He ends up crying on the 25th floor of Macy’s (after a trip up the elevator), but then is rescued by a slow-talking turtle who offers Lori a ride on his back. Lori agrees and off they go. But, um, that was four months ago.

“And nobody has heard from them since.”

The warning label is not unjustified then.

Another best thing? The book has been brought back into print where it remains. Because it’s totally totally brilliant.

3 thoughts on “How Little Lori Visited Times Square”

  1. Sara says:

    It’s great to see these out-of-print gems being brought back for another generation, isn’t it? My list of “wants” is getting so long I may need to start a press. Maybe I can run out of the back room of the bookshop my son wants to open.

  2. Matthew Donnelly says:

    I read this book when I was in second grade back in 1971 and loved it very much. When it came time for me to read to my daughter’s kindergarten class a few years back, I purchased a new copy and brought it in to read to the class, and left it as a gift to the class so they all could share in the magic of this book which I discovered way back when…

    1. Kerry says:

      It’s such a good one!

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