Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

New York City gets a park: A Green Place to Be

A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park, by Ashley Benham Yazdani, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763696955

Ages 7-10

This beautiful and lushly illustrated history of Central Park starts with the land’s beginnings, as a barren area where farm animals and industrial waste left much to be desired, and the design contest devised by architect Calvert Vaux – a contest that he also entered with every intention of winning. A Green Place to Be follows Vaux’s and park superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision, focusing on their planning, execution, and invitation to artists to join in the effort. The winter of 1858 saw the first park of the park, the Lake, open for visitors; in the summer of 1859, the woodsy Ramble joined the landscape, followed by the Children’s District.

Illustrated in watercolor and pencil, this is a loving tribute to an iconic green space and the men and women who created it. Back matter includes profiles of both Olmstead and Vaux, and a Q&A on spaces within the park. Sharp-eyed readers will love returning to the illustrations again and again to find squirrels, bridges, and other affectionately placed details. There is an author’s note and bibliography for further reading.

A Green Place to Be is a love letter to New York’s green spaces and creativity. Central Park’s website has extensive information about the park, including a calendar of events and links to social media. Planetizen has a good article on teaching urban planning to preschoolers; this could be a fun activity where kids can learn and create their own green spaces! National Geographic has a fun Design a Park activity for middle grade kids, and the STAR Library Network has a printable Design a Park activity that will work with large groups of kids. It’s a fun springtime program!

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Road Trip! Ranger Rick’s Travels: National Parks

ranger-rickRanger Rick’s Travels: National Parks!, by Stacy Tornio & Ken Keffer, (Aug. 2016, Muddy Boots), $14.95, ISBN: 9781630762308

Recommended for ages 8+

In a fabulous love letter to the National Parks of America and the National Park Service, the folks at Ranger Rick Magazine – remember them? They have books now! – put together this beautiful book, featuring each one of the 58 National parks across America. Ranger Rick and his best friend, Deputy Scarlett, appear throughout the book to join readers on a countrywide sightseeing tour.

The book opens with a map of the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and the US Virgin Islands. Each park is numbered and corresponds to the Table of Contents, which organizes the parks into 9 groups: Eastern Parks, Midwest Parks, Mountain West Parks, Southwest Parks, Utah and Nevada Parks, California Parks, Pacific Northwest Parks, Pacific Island Parks, and Alaska Parks. Each park’s profile includes stunning photos and facts that will make readers want to pack their bags and take a month or six off from work or school!

rangerrick-rickandscarlettEach park feature provides information in quick bites that read like a tourism guide. About the Park provides a quick overview and basic facts; What to Watch For are Ranger Rick’s top nature picks on what plants and animals to keep an eye out for. Ranger Rick’s Top Things To Do is a bucket list for each park – don’t leave without seeing Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, naturally, but also make sure not to miss out on a hike through the park! Finally, Ranger Rick’s Amazing Facts are the “WOW” factor for each park: did you know that you can only reach Northwest Alaska’s Kobuk Valley National Park by foot, dogsled, snowmobile, or air taxi? Now you do!

This is a great book to have in collections and to have available when you’re talking about the U.S. There’s 100 years of history in the National Parks Service, but there are far more years in the history of these parks; there are petrified trees, dinosaur footprints and bones, and formations carved out of rock thousands of years ago, here for all to enjoy. Families planning a vacation or two can use this as a jumping off point (I know I am).

Don’t forget to head to the Ranger Rick website, where kids can read more about nature and the environment, play some games, and get craft ideas. Educator resources included lesson plans and webinars.

Ranger Rick and Scarlett image courtesy of Photobucket.