Fitting the Big Apple on a page
Local children’s author Robert Neubecker speaks fondly about his days in New York City when it was still possible to rent a loft for $300 a month, and a job waiting tables could pay the rent.
Times have changed and so has he. In 1994 Neubecker traded city lights for Utah’s famous powder, but he brings a taste of the Big Apple to children across the country through his book, "Wow! City!"
On Tuesday afternoon the author read to Soaring Wings Montessori School students as part of their weekly story time at Park City Library. With their heads turned up as though they were looking at skyscrapers the children watched Neubecker turn the brightly illustrated pages of his book. He took them on a tour of New York City from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The students also looked excitedly for the yellow lab Neubecker hid on every page of his book.
"Wow! City!" was inspired by his daughter, who he took to New York City for the first time when she was 18 months old. He carried her around the city in a backpack and said she was in awe over the sights, especially the crowds of people.
"’Wow! City!’ wrote itself. Isabelle at that age was so amazed by everything she saw," he said.
Writing and illustrating the book took a mere three months.
"I’m an old pro and I work very fast," he said.
Neubecker has been an illustrator for 30 years. After graduating from Parsons School of Design he found steady work at the New York Times as an illustrator. He has done freelance work for Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and designed posters for the movie Sideways. In addition to numerous freelance projects he is a staff illustrator for Slate, an online news magazine.
His work as an author and illustrator of children’s books has become a second career for Neubecker. In addition to "Wow! City!" which was recognized by the American Library Association with a 2005 Notable Children’s Book Award, he wrote and illustrated "Beastie Bath," which he read to the children on Thursday.
Before ending story time at the library Neubecker showed the students proofs of illustrations for "Wow! America!," his next work which will hit the shelves in May. The pictures featured quintessentially American things like the nation’s bread basket and Cowboys. He also brought out the original water colors for, "Beastie Bath."
Publishing his books has helped him to realize a lifelong dream.
"It’s something I’ve always wanted to do," Neubecker said.
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Joe Biden has appeared in Park City on fundraising trips a handful of times. But before that, he frequently came to town for the Senators’ Ski Cup, an annual benefit for Primary Children’s Medical Center.