Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

Rating: 4 stars

There's this huge trend in children's book: to create lots of nonfiction books that parents and educators can use to teach while kids are turning pages themselves, or on their parents' laps.  I think it's a great trend; there are tons of incredible nonfiction books out there that do this well.


You knew there'd be a but, right?

The books I'm talking about are often too wordy and too "teachy;" they are the type of book parents buy and give their kids or, like me, check them out from the library and just have them lying around in the hopes that facts will be learned through osmosis at the very least.  Books about the environment and living green definitely fall into this trap of trying a little TOO hard.

Sometimes, a simple tale of creating a simple garden can go a lot farther than a book about a woman who helped restore all the redwoods in California (or something like that).

Henry Cole does just that in On Meadowview Street.  Young Caroline moves in, and immediately starts looking for a meadow. Because shouldn't there be one on Meadowview Street?  There is not.  So she makes one.  She starts small, with just a little area of her yard, which she ropes off so her father doesn't mow that area.

The more Caroline and her family worked on their yard,
the more it changed.  It was now a home to many things.
But as flowers start to grow, the area gets larger.  And as more flowers bloom, she gets a tree for shade.  Then a bird comes, and she builds bird houses to put in the tree.  They need something to drink, so she and her family build a little pond.  And pretty soon, one step at a time, she creates a small wildlife preserve in her suburban neighborhood.  Of course, it wonderfully inspires others, and Caroline ends up inspiring many people to start small, in their own yard, to do their part.

It's a really great little go-green book for kids.

Small side note: I met Henry Cole last week.  He's the illustrator of over 100 books, and he's authored a fair number of them, too.  He was a neat, neat guy.  He grew up on a farm not far from where we live--in Purceville--so many of his books are inspired from these simple, rural roots.

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