7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #742: Featuring Yevgenia Nayberg

h1 May 9th, 2021 by jules


Mona Lisa may live in Paris, but in Yevgenia Nayberg’s Mona Lisa in New York (Prestel, March 2021), she finds herself on an adventure in the Big Apple.

Our protagonist is taken off the wall of the Louvre and shipped overseas. At the Met, people “sighed, they cried, and they admired her beauty. It was business as usual.” Mona Lisa is used to this (she’s more than a bit bored by it all), but when she slips through the gates of the Met at night and starts to explore the city, she is surprised that people don’t stop to admire her. She meets a piece of graffiti from Brookyln, named Tag, who doesn’t even recognize her at all. When he remarks that it appears she doesn’t know her way around New York City, she says (“with a sniff”), “I know everything.” Tag decides to show her around the city himself: “Maybe there’s something you don’t know yet.”

Mona Lisa’s curiosity is awakened as Tag shows her the city: “It was brimming with laughter and music.” They listen to jazz in Harlem; eat pizza in the Bronx; dance salsa on the High Line; swim at Brighton Beach; and more. In the end, Mona Lisa surprises Tag with a decision she’s made, but I won’t ruin that for you.

Nayberg’s illustrations feature rich colors and off-kilter perspectives. As you can see in the spreads featured here, the image of the classic painting is used throughout the book, and Nayberg slips in a host of other classic paintings (or references to them) by artists such as Botticelli, van Eyck, Lippi, and more. (A waiter in the Bronx is none other than the young boy from Pinturicchio’s Portrait of a Boy.) In fact, in a closing note Nayberg thanks the famous paintings and their creators included in the book, including: “Tag by unknown Brooklyn street artist.”

Perhaps Nayberg, an immigrant herself (she was born and raised in Kiev), is paying tribute to the city she loves and now makes home. The story is also a treat for art lovers; it’s fun to play spot-the-painting, yet doing so doesn’t distract from the narrative itself, which is a love letter to NYC and having one’s senses reawakened. Mona Lisa’s world-weariness falls away when she sees the music, art, and energy the city has to offer. Fame may have jaded Mona Lisa, but New York City makes her feel alive again.

Here are some spreads …


“Mona Lisa looked up and saw a man with a big red mustache.
He was covered in colorul stripes and stickers. …”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“The night was warm. It was brimming with laughter and music. Mona Lisa felt something she hadn’t felt in years. Curiosity. Tag took her hand and off they went.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“They listend to jazz in Harlem.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“They danced salsa on the High Line.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


MONA LISA IN NEW YORK. © 2021, Prestel Verlag. © Text and illustrations: Yevgenia Nayberg. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) I turned 49 this past week! Glad to be here on planet Earth.

2) My family gave me a disco ball.

3) My daughters gave me some hand-crafted beauties.

4) I got a Captain Janeway comms badge to pin to my chest. It doesn’t actually work, but I can pretend it does and tap my chest dramatically and say, “Janeway out.” I see that, not surprisingly, someone on the internet has a collection of these:



5) Walks with the family.

6) This, which my daughters and I ordered for one of their friends.

7) Cake!

Oh! And it’s Mother’s Day. My daughters are my greatest gifts, so this day is for them.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #742: Featuring Yevgenia Nayberg”

  1. What a great book. I can just see the Mona Lisa doing all those things.
    Jules, happy belated birthday, 49 and feeling fine, right?
    Cake, walks, and a disco ball is perfect!
    My kicks:
    1. My deck.
    2. Peonies.
    3. Friends
    4. A trip to the coast recently.
    5. Oldest grand.
    6. Farmer’s markets.
    7. Food Carts.
    Have a great week.

  2. I love New York and love this way of seeing and celebrating the city from Mona Lisa’s perspective. Especially dancing salsa on the Highline.

    Jules – Happy birthday! Hooray for disco balls and thoughtful, perfect presents. Hope there was lots of cake too!

    Jone -your deck looks so lovely! What a great week you’ve had!

    My kicks this week:
    1) This lovely short animated film called Wolf and Cub by Marvin Bynoe and Friends that was put together by the Cal Arts Animation students after his passing last year. It starts at 21:10 on the link:
    2) The whole CalArts Animators Showcase program is here and includes alum Elizabeth Ito, creator of City of Ghosts, as Guest of Honor:
    3) Hummingbirds.
    4) My Lady of Shalott roses are starting to bloom.
    5) Two of the neighborhood feral kitties getting jealous of each other if I’m petting the other one. At one time it was unthinkable that they’d let me pet them.
    6) Daisy doing great 2 weeks post surgery.
    7) Rainy weather – we really need it in the PNW because its been so dry, so I am happy for the precipitation and grey skies.
    7.5) Super busy with work and I am grateful that I have work, and that it means there will be a time in the future for a nice break. Looking forward to the break.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Happy Sunday, Imps! I hope you are all doing well, and that those of you who are celebrating today have a wonderful day.

    Hello, Yevgenia! Thank you for sharing your art, and the sharing the love of art.

    Jules: Happy belated birthday! Enjoy boogie-ing under the disco ball.

    Jone: Say hello to the ocean for me!

    Rachel: Glad that Daisy is healing and doing well. Hi kitties and hummingbirds! Enjoy your break. Breaks are important.

    My kicks:
    1) Resting
    2) Consideration
    3) Thinking
    4) Music
    5) Snacks
    6) Safety
    7) Scene

  4. Jone, sounds like a good, relaxing week with friends, family, and travel. After you say hello to the ocean for Little Willow, do so for me too.

    Rachel, great news about Daisy! And KITTIES! Are they actually kittens? Thank you for the links too! I shall explore when my work is done.

    Little Willow: I like that last kick. In a training I attended this week (nothing to do with children’s lit), I was reminded of an acting coach (I think it was an acting coach?), who said, “Be altered by what’s said.” I like that. Took me back to my acting days. Also, I’m always glad when you get rest, since you’re one of the hardest-working people I know.

    Have a good week, you all!

  5. Hi Little Willow! Resting and snacks sounds like a wonderful week.

    Jules – the kitties are full grown, but they have lived in the neighborhood since they were tiny. They are the last of their line, as we had the local county shelter come out and Trap Spay Neuter and Release them all several years ago. As they get older I want to make sure they are ok with some human contact in case of an emergency, so I can help them or get them to a vet if need be.

  6. Thank you, Jules! Happy birthday!

  7. Thanks, Yevgenia!

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