How Cities Work (How Things Work)

by Lonely Planet Kids (Author) James Gulliver Hancock (Illustrator)

How Cities Work (How Things Work)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: How Things Work

Get ready to explore the city in a whole new way. This innovative book for younger readers is packed with city facts, loads of flaps to lift, and unfolding pages to see inside buildings and under the streets.

Children aged 5+ can learn about skyscrapers, subway systems and stinky sewers. Discover where people live and peek behind closed doors to see what's going on in houses and apartments, or why not find out about what goes on underneath the streets you walk on every day? Each page is stylishly illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock, creator of the All The Buildings That I've Drawn So Far series (Universe Publishing) and there are loads of quirky details to spot. How many giant cowboy hats can you find through the book?

Created in consultation with Jill Sterrett, lecturer with the department of Urban Planning at the University of Washington.


  • The birth of a city
  • In and out of the city
  • City living
  • Build, build, build!
  • High-rise life
  • Green spaces
  • Going underground
  • City hall
  • Emergency services
  • Recreation and culture
  • Night and day
  • Cities of the future

About Lonely Planet Kids: From the world's leading travel publisher comes Lonely Planet Kids, a children's imprint that brings the world to life for young explorers everywhere. With a range of beautiful books for children aged 5-12, we're kickstarting the travel bug and showing kids just how amazing our planet can be. From bright and bold sticker activity books, to beautiful gift titles bursting at the seams with amazing facts, we aim to inspire and delight curious kids, showing them the rich diversity of people, places and cultures that surrounds us. We pledge to share our enthusiasm and love of the world, our sense of humor and continual fascination for what it is that makes the world we live in the diverse and magnificent place it is. It's going to be a big adventure - come explore!

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Kirkus Reviews

Likely to prompt young city dwellers to a broader understanding of their environment. (Informational novelty book. 7-10)

Copyright 2016 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission

Publishers Weekly

From transportation and housing to unseen infrastructure beneath the streets, this upbeat and thorough guide to what makes a city a city lets readers peek inside buildings, vehicles, and various attractions. A mix of full-page and smaller flaps are used to cutaway effect as the book looks at how cities grow out of villages and towns, the bustle of daily life within them (an enormous skyscraper foldout is a particular highlight), and what future cities might look like. Tidbits about real-life buildings, parks, and subway systems complement the more general facts and descriptions, and Hancock's cheery cartooning packs the pages with details to explore. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6--Employing cartoonlike drawings, Feroze introduces elementary students to the evolution of a nameless city from its small, humble beginnings to a thriving metropolis. The book begins with a drawing of a tiny village with a river, fields, pastures, and a few buildings. Over the next several pages, readers see the locale grow as more structures are built, more people move in, and civil services such as police and fire departments are created. High-rises, recreational opportunities, and parks are also presented. Finally, the author provides a vision of how cities may look in the future. The addition of foldout pages and flaps enhances the reading experience. The intricate, colorful drawings, dominated by gray and green hues, are the primary attraction and are aptly complemented by the writing. VERDICT The detail in the illustrations and text makes this an attractive offering to children and superior to other titles, such as Esther Porter's Peeking Under the City.--Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This clever guide to the inner workings of a big city will provide long and lasting activity to the young and inquisitive mind."—Story Monsters Ink
Lonely Planet Kids
Joe Fullman is a freelance author based in London. Over the past 20 years, he has - by a rather neat symmetry - written and contributed to guidebooks to around 20 countries. That means he's visited an awful lot of museums - although he's always happy to fit in a couple more. In between his foreign adventures, Joe has also found time to write children's books on everything from dinosaurs and space to music and ancient history. Joe also authored Incredible Cabinet of Wonders for Lonely Planet Kids, released in October 2017.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Lonely Planet
Publication date
November 20, 2016
How Things Work
BISAC categories
JNF031000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Lifestyles | City & Town Life
JNF005000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Architecture
JNF051120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Technology | How Things Work/Are Made
Library of Congress categories
Toy and movable books
City and town life
Cities and towns
Lift-the-flap books
Urban geography
Urban ecology (Sociology)

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