Seeing that this Blog is directly linked to Amazon, and soon to my publisher's websites, I'm going to concentrate on books and leave most of my general illustration stuff at Neubecker.com. So, without further ado, here is my first book "Wow! City!"
"Wow! City!" was written by my daughter, Isabel, when she was eighteen months old. I'd lived in New York City for twenty two years and I'd moved to Utah to be in the mountains and to start a family. As all New Yorkers would, I felt quite like a fish out of water once the novelty of a "long vacation" wore off. Taking Isabel back to New York enabled me to see the city anew through her eyes. Her two words were "wow!" and "mom!" I took her everywhere on the subways in a backpack because, as new parents, we didn't trust the taxis- they have no car seats. By the time we had our second child, we'd just hold them on our laps. Many of the scenes in the book are Izzy's reactions to actual events; many, like Chinese New Year, the fire truck, and the long, warm cab ride home at night are my own fond memories.
"Wow! City!" was quite a hit when it was published in the fall of 2004. It won an ALA notable book award, the short list for the Caldicott Medal- about twenty books long, out of the tens of thousands of children's books published each year. This was my start as a children's book illustrator and author.
"Wow! City!" garnered many glowing and starred reviews, and here is my favorite:
From Booklist: Starred Review: If Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie had been painted with a two-year-old in mind, the result might have been something like this. Bold colors and undulating forms jitterbug across the big, 20-by-10 inch spreads of Neubecker's first book for children, an ode to urbanity that chronicles his Utah-born daughter's first experience of the Big Apple. Though Neubecker is a seasoned contributor to the New York Times and other journals for adults, his artwork here couldn't be more attuned to toddlers. Each double-page scene, hand-drawn in thick, toothsome black line and tinted digitally in riotous carnival colors, showcases a city sight writ large, accompanied by a two-word exclamatory phrase: "Wow! Taxi!" "Wow! Skyscrapers!" "Wow! Fire Engine!" Neubecker then crams every square inch of the surrounding area with things to point, identify, or wonder about, including a yellow dog somewhere on every page (a stray ultimately goes home with guess who?). Sharp eyes will eventually notice that this seek-and-find subplot extends to the stunning endpapers. A dazzling picture-book debut that beautifully transmits the wonder of the view from a bay-carrier backpack-so different from the more jaded perceptions of adults who, like the father illustrated here, stand agog before the unintelligible squiggles of a subway map.