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Spotlight: Urban Playground by Katie Burke



JKS Communications

Contact: Ellen Whitfield, publicist 

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“Urban Playground is an entertaining introduction to San Francisco thanks to the charm, sense of wonder, and joy of its participants.”

Foreword-Clarion Reviews


San Francisco columnist tells tales of the city through
the eyes of its youngest residents in ‘Urban Playground’


SAN FRANCISCO –– To outsiders, the Bay Area is intrinsically linked to tech hubs and counterculture. But what about San Francisco’s kid culture? In her new book, “Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco,” Katie Burke explores the experience of kids ages five to nine living in one of the country’s most iconic cultural hubs. 

The book also includes thoughtful discussion questions designed to draw laughs, explore various topics from silly to serious, and facilitate discussion. 

Writer of Noe Kids, a column of kid profiles for San Francisco neighborhood newspaper The Noe Valley Voice, Katie Burke brings city kids’ personalities and perspectives to the page, leading readers to see the joys and challenges to being a San Francisco kid.

One five-year-old tries to articulate the city’s aroma, “I smell a delicious smell, and it always smells like San Francisco. I don’t know what the smell is, so I can’t really tell it to people, but it smells different from ice cream.” 

But it isn’t all about parks and ice cream. Drawing on her experience being an aunt to six nieces and two nephews (all of whom grew up in major cities), Burke unearths an often hidden and unasked perspective on the city’s more complicated subjects –– from homelessness to immigrant parents. By leaning in and crouching down to see a child’s point of view, Burke shows us a part of San Francisco we never knew. 

Urban Playground


Have you ever wondered what it’s like being a kid in San Francisco? Are you raising a kid in this or another urban center? San Francisco life is full of thrills and bummers, both for kids and the adults who love them.


In Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, Katie Burke explores the experience of kids ages five to nine living in this place—what makes San Francisco special for kids and why some are over it.


Writer of Noe Kids, her column of kid profiles for San Francisco neighborhood newspaper The Noe Valley Voice, Katie Burke brings city kids’ personalities and perspectives to the page, leading readers to see the joys and challenges inherent to being a San Francisco kid.


Just when the book suggests that parks and ice cream are all any kid needs, you will turn the page to find a child’s appreciation for the Golden Gate Bridge or the Ferry Building Farmers Market.


The picture isn’t all aglow: the significant homeless population weighs on San Francisco children’s hearts, and the city is too noisy for some. But for the most part, they will tell you it is a pretty great place to live.


Urban Playground

What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco

Katie Burke | April 7, 2020 | SparkPress

Paperback | 978-1-68463-016-5 | $16.95

E-Book | 978-1-68463-017-2 | $9.95

Family & Relationships, Juvenile Nonfiction, and Social Science


Praise for Urban Playground

“In this charming, warm-hearted, often very funny book, Katie Burke takes us into the minds of children–a place we should all spend more time! Not only a wonderfully insightful kid’s eye guide to San Francisco, Urban Playground is also an interactive manual for getting into the minds of your own—and your friends’—children. Reading its sweet—and sometimes quirky—interviews , is to see San Francisco with the freshest eyes possible.”

Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue


“San Francisco as seen through the eyes of its youngest denizens. More than just an insider’s guide to places parents should take their kids in the city, Katie Burke’s stories are a revelation about the lives, imaginations and dreams of our future generation. Kids really do say the darndest things.”

Scott James, journalist and author of San Francisco Chronicle bestsellers SoMa and The Sower


“If you’re seeking the honest truth from kids, you will find few better resources than Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, by San Francisco writer Katie Burke. Burke’s StoryCorps-like interviews, quoting kids on everything from pupusas to Pride Week, reveal that the Bay Area remains a fertile ground for smart, confident, and fun-loving kids. Says a seven-year-old girl who’s on the road to becoming an archaeologist, “It usually takes about maybe a month or a year to dig up one dinosaur.” After reading this book, I wouldn’t be surprised if she or another San Francisco kid figured out how to dig one up sooner!”

Sally Smith, Editor and Co-Publisher, Noe Valley Voice


“Children make the best tour guides. In Katie Burke’s lively Urban Playground series, young city-dwellers share how they experience all aspects of city life, from restaurants, holidays, people and parks to pets, schools, sports, shops and activities. Their observations are moving and thought-provoking, and reveal what makes a city interesting and unique. This book will appeal to adults and kids who wish to see (and re-see) San Francisco.”

Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home


“A fascinating peek into the minds of San Francisco’s children. They are more insightful, creative and weird—in the best of ways! — than I’d ever imagined.”

Julia Scheeres, author of A Thousand Lives

“Katie Burke is a gifted writer. This book, about and partly told by San Francisco children, chronicles San Francisco and what makes the city special, but it also reminds us what it is like to be young, excited, open-minded, and curious. The children’s insights on holidays to heroes to homework apply to children and adults alike.  A wonderful book for adults and children.”

Will Marks, San Francisco parent


“With an inviting cover, Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, invites a multi-generational exchange on the joys and hardships of living in one of America’s greatest cities. Author Katie Burke introduces the reader to a multicultural point-of-view that is current and insightful, as each chapter introduces a new voice, followed by discussion questions. What makes this an important work is its honest recording of children’s voices, their fears and dreams. It is a poignant reminder that family is defined in many ways.”

Johnnie Bernhard, author of A Good Girl, How We Came to Be, and Sisters of the Undertow


“How can we ask our children to walk a mile in another’s shoes without insight into other kids’ lives? And how can we teach empathy without them walking that mile in their mind? This book provides a window into the lives of children and, through them, into a city. The stories are relatable and paired with fun questions to get a conversation started.”

Amy Baker, San Francisco parent


This delightful book of interviews of important San Franciscans — grade-school kids — works on so many levels because it is by, about, and for them and speaks in their voices. Interlocutor and wordsmith Katie Burke introduces herself as Aunt Katie. She is not, however, the auntie with apron and spoon in hand, but rather an imaginative, zany and fun friend who coaxes, respects and reflects the whimsy and honesty of the kids.

Joanna Biggar, author of Melanie’s Song


“With so much to see and do, it’s easy for anyone to fall in love with San Francisco. Katie Burke’s new book beautifully captures the wonder of this great city through the lens of San Francisco’s most inquisitive residents—our children.” 

Rafael Mandelman, District 8 Supervisor

As the parent of two small kids, I cannot wait to explore San Francisco with them after reading Urban Playground:  What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco. Katie Burke’s writing captures the unique voice of each child she interviews, truly bringing to life the diversity of the city and giving the reader tons of ideas for things to do.  Every guidebook features sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39, but now my itinerary will include the Mission Pool, Bi-Rite for ice cream, Green Apple Books, Japantown for sushi, Hop Oast Brew Pub for hot dogs and hamburgers—and maybe even a day trip to Treasure Island! Even if a trip to San Francisco isn’t in the future, this book is still a fantastic resource for parents due to the discussion questions at the end of each interview.  I’ve already used a couple of them with my own kids, and it’s been eye-opening to hear their answers to questions I would have never thought to ask.  Every city needs a book like this one, which allows reader of all ages to experience it through the eyes of a child.

Megan Holt, Ph.D., Executive Director of One Book One New Orleans

“When I was going through teacher training, one of our instructors urged us not to ask children who they wanted to be when they grew up. The only appropriate response to such a question would be ‘I already am.’ Urban Playground shows that one does not need to come of age to have a strong personality. The fifty kids interviewed live with single parents or split time between two parents, have two moms, two dads, or one of each. Some have special needs. All kids are all presented in their own terms without any sense of ‘othering.’ The kids in this book just are, in all their silly, poignant, and very own specifics. One has a parrot named Gobble. One invents not just a new holiday, but what names will be in different countries. They come from neighborhoods all over San Francisco; readers will delight in recognizing common landmarks shared by disparate personalities. The wonderfully illogical and insightful things they say will fuel delight and introspection.”

Monya Baker, San Francisco science editor

About Katie Burke

Katie Burke is the author of Urban Playground (SparkPress, 2020), a book featuring San Francisco kids ages five to nine. She writes Noe Kids, a monthly column for The Noe Valley Voice, featuring kids ages four to twelve who live in Noe Valley. Katie has taught creative writing to children and adults in Kenya, South Africa, and San Francisco. She travels annually to New Orleans, and her writing expresses her appreciation for San Francisco and New Orleans’ eccentric characters. Also a family law attorney, Katie writes quarterly judicial and attorney profiles for San Francisco Attorney Magazine. Her other publications include HarperCollins, the L.A. Times, KQED Perspectives, and SoMa Literary Review

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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