In The Adventures of Oliver The Aviator: New York, a teddy bear takes a nighttime jaunt to New York, where he introduces children to many of the city’s major landmarks, from Central Park to Times Square to the Statue of Liberty.
Oliver is a beloved teddy bear who belongs to Howard, a small boy who lives in London. Howard is unusually fond of bedtime; after all, this is when “he starts dreaming of the adventures he wants to go on with his best friend Oliver.”
One special night, when the grandfather clock chimes 12, Oliver wakes up and takes a trip in Howard’s toy biplane, setting his course for New York City. Oliver lands in Manhattan at sunset. (Since New York is five hours behind London, the biplane seems to have transported itself instantly across the Atlantic.)
Oliver finds his way from the Brooklyn Bridge to the New York City Public Library, where he meets a friendly beagle named Amelia. The beagle serves as a tour guide, escorting Oliver to Times Square, Central Park, and Grand Central Station.
While Oliver the Aviator strikes a cheery, upbeat tone, learning about landmarks, mostly only by name, doesn’t tell young readers much about New York. Amelia offers scant detail on each tourist attraction. For example, she lumps four landmarks into a single sentence: “Look, Columbus Circle, the Plaza Hotel, the Met Museum, the Zoo!”
Additionally, the book is too wordy for a picture book, and the concept of a biplane and aviator are never explained, which may confuse young readers more familiar with passenger planes. Parents or teachers will also be concerned by the number of punctuation and grammar errors, including a reference to placid Oliver as Howard’s “fury,” not furry, friend.
The book’s conclusion and cover hints that Oliver will be embarking on more adventures. Let’s hope his future travels involve more details about his visits and better copyediting, allowing the series to reach its potential.
Also available as an ebook.