BOOKS

Book cover of Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs
Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs
Susan Hughes, illustrated by Valérie Boivin. Kids Can Press, 2018. 36 pages, $19.99.
****
Reviewed by Vicki Harding

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs introduces the reader to a curious and imaginative young girl who grows up to become a ground-breaking urban activist. This gorgeous picture book provides a concise biography of Jane Jacobs suitable for grades 3 through 5, though its message of perseverance and advocacy is applicable at any age. The illustrations offer a window into the vibrancy of a diverse city ecosystem; the pages depicting aggressive urban planning are dull and devoid of colour and life.

The book walks you through Jane’s life. She moves to New York City from a small town and develops a love for the complexity of urban living. Jane learns that city planners are labeling some of the old, eclectic neighbourhoods she loves as “slums”, intending to bulldoze them to build modern high-rise buildings in their place. She is further dismayed to discover that her own neighbourhood is labeled a slum by a powerful city planner named Robert Moses. This prompts Jane to take action, working tirelessly as an advocate for her home. In the end, Jane and her neighbours save their community. Bolstered by this success, Jane continues to be an activist for the preservation of the city ecosystem, defeating a number of other plans for urban development. She proves that a small voice can have a big impact.

Walking in the City with Jane provides ample opportunity for critical thinking and lively class discussion. A note at the end of the book includes a link to a series of city walks in Jane’s honour. It would be an engaging class activity to discover if a walk exists in your city, or to plan such a walk as a community outreach. This book marries beautifully with the social studies curriculum including the grades 3 and 5 strands, People and Environments. Many a geometry project could be built up around the idea of responsible urban development. This book is a wellspring of opportunity to engage your students with their own community and challenge preset ideas that newer is always best.

Vicki Harding is a member of the Ottawa Carlton Teacher Local.

MORE BOOKS

Book cover of One Love
Adapted by Cedella Marleyand Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2011, 32 pages, $18.99
Book cover of Creating Safe Schools: A Bullying Prevention Guide for Teachers
Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) and the Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions (COPA), 2012
book cover of This Book is Not About Drama It's About New Ways to Inspire Students
Myra Barrs, Bob Barton, and David Booth. Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2012160 pages, $24.95
Book Cover of Stay, Play & Talk
Fanshawe College, Thames Valley Children’s Centre and All Kids Belong. London, ON: Thames Valley Children’s Centre
Book Cover of Old Photographs
by Sherie Posesorsk. Toronto: Second Story Press, 2010. 215 pages, $10.95
Book cover of When I Get Older
K’naan and Sol Guy, Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2012. 32 pages, $19.99
Book cover of A Chanukah Noel
Sharon Jennings, Illustrated by Gillian Newline. Toronto: Second Story Press, 2010. 24 pages, $15.95 
Cover of When I Grow Up
Al Yankovic Illustrated by Wes Hargis. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011. 32 pages , $19.99

Pages