I’d not heard of title or author before but as I started to flick through its pages I was hooked.
It’s got Lowry-esque illustrations sitting alongside simple, clear, warm language about London life (in 1959, when it was published). Piccadilly Circus, Greenwich, Covent Garden, City workers, ‘the sport of queuing’; he’s painted a fascinating picture of hustle, bustle, people and places. Then I read the front again and noticed that this was a children’s book; a travel guide for readers up to three years old to be precise. Amazing. It’s not dumbed down, it’s not insulting to your intelligence – it’s just good writing that doesn’t overcomplicate things, written with a good sense of humour and a light touch. (There’s a lesson about writing with your audience in mind in there somewhere.)
The end result is a beautiful thing. And it turns out it’s just one of a whole series he wrote about cities all over the world. Next stop San Francisco.