Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: Walking in the City with Jane: A story of Jane Jacobs

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs is an engaging picture book aimed at kids aged 6-9. Author Susan Hughes provides a fictionalized retelling of the life of Jane Jacobs. If Jacob's isn't a familiar name to you, she's one of the world's greatest urban thinkers & activists. The book is a great introduction to the ideas of civic engagement & city planning through the lens of urban life, as well as touching on the history of New York & Toronto.

As an advocate for active transportation, I love that this book helps explain the idea that cities are living, breathing entities, & it's possible for ordinary people to influence how they work & make them better for the citizens who live there. There are so many small details that can serve as a jumping off point for further discussions about how cities work, like the mechanics of gas, water, steam, electricity, sewage.

As with most picture books, the artwork is crucial & this one does not disappoint. Stylized illustrations by Valérie Boivin perfectly evoke the eras covered by the story, with a muted watercolour palette. The last pages of the book include a brief biography of Jane Jacobs.

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs is published by Kids Can Press, available in hardcover for $20 CAD at bookstores & online.

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