Spring is in the air (finally!) and with the warmer weather all I want to do is ditch all of my responsibilities and go outside to enjoy the blossoms and buds and freshly sprouting grass. But I have to do things like dishes and go to work and so mostly I’m enjoying things vicariously. Today I’m featuring two books that celebrate nature and its advocates in an urban setting.
Jane Jacobs spent her whole life struggling and against conventions and exploring the great outdoors. She wanted to know how things worked, she found patterns in seemingly ordinary places and discovered that cities have their own ecosystems. Parks, sidewalks, buildings, stores, people are all part of what makes a city tick and when they work together everything is healthier and happier.
When her favorite parks and neighborhoods came under attack from city planners looking to build expressways and skyscrapers she used her love of the ecosystem and her journalism background to rally the neighbors and bring about changes to all the places she lived (including NYC and Toronto). She worked until her death to encourage people to get out and walk around their city streets learning about their neighborhoods and being a part of the great “sidewalk ballet.”
Written by: Susan Hughes
Illustrated by: Valerie Boivin
Number of Pages: 36
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Age Range: 6-10
Bob Redman grew up in NYC but didn’t love the bustle, busyness and endless concrete. He spent as much of his time as possible in Central Park climbing the trees and enjoying the cool and quiet. He began building tree houses out of scavenged wood and spending hours watching the city from above. As he grew, his tree houses grew with him becoming larger and more elaborate but the city eventually intervened. Bob wasn’t allowed to live in the trees but he was offered a job to take care of the trees he loved so much.
Written by: Shira Boss
Illustrated by: Jamey Christoph
Number of Pages: 40
Publisher: Stirling Children’s Books
Age Range: 6-10
Both books are fascinating looks at what people can accomplish when they put their minds to something. Each has a bit of back matter talking about the real people behind the stories but I would have loved just a little more information. (You can never give me too much back matter!) But if you’re looking to inspire some future naturalists, give these books a look!