Sunshine: A Story About the City of New York

Image of Sunshine: A Story About the City of New York
Release Date: 
September 22, 2020
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

“lively illustrations and wry humor”

A reissue of a title originally published in 1950, Sunshine glows with Bemelman’s lively illustrations and wry humor as he describes a crotchety landlord who rents his downstairs apartment to a little old lady he assumes will be quiet and boring. When she turns out to be a music teacher with a steady stream of students, he “rushed to his lawyer and said, ‘George, will you please,/ thoroughly examine this lease. / And tell me how I can best / Rid myself of this awful pest.’”

The rhymes aren’t always as seamless as in his classic Madeline, but the energy of the vibrant line drawings, the twists and turns of the landlord’s and teacher’s troubles will charm parents and children alike. The backmatter by Bemelmans’ daughter, reveals that the crabby landlord, ironically named Sunshine, was based on her family’s own rental problems. She writes, “My father claimed that he had no imagination. His stories were ones he had lived, partially lived or were told to him. He merely embroidered them.” And a lovely embroidery it is, with scenes of New York streets and familiar landmarks, beginning and ending with Gramercy Park, where Bemelmans himself lived.