Our Green City
Our Green City
In our green classroom, we plant seeds and watch our flowers grow.
We build and paint.
We count and create.
Some days we learn things on the run. But quiet and still are also fun.
Can you spot something fast and something very slow?
Our Green City is a great starting point for young readers to learn about sustainable urban living. Different aspects of sustainable urban development are presented from passive energy creation to community gardens to nature playgrounds. Familiar locations, such as home, school, and the market, enable young readers to apply their learning about sustainability to everyday tangible experiences.
Tanya Lloyd Kyi uses simple, understandable vocabulary and includes a short text on each page along with a question which invites readers to interact with the illustrations. These questions encourage reader engagement in a relaxed manner, yet they build in a subtle way throughout the book for readers ultimately to contemplate how they, too, can contribute to a future of sustainable living in the city. For this target age group, it is a wise decision to keep the text to an informative minimum while filling the double-page spreads with ample visual educational detail.
Colleen Larmour creates wonderfully vibrant urban cityscapes with watercolour, pen, and ink. Her use of earth-tone colours produces a calming quality and consistent visual coherence throughout. With my own children, it was the illustrations that captured their attention and sparked conversations about things they had learned in school which they could see on the page. The volume of visual detail of each new scene begs for time and exploration, and, thus, for this reason, Our Green City would be best used as a lap-book rather than a read-aloud. City-dweller characters depicted throughout the story represent a wide range of ages, abilities, genders, families, jobs, and cultures. In a sense, these depictions demonstrate that it is not just a book about sustainable development but also about community-building and communal responsibility.
The beautiful illustrations and the just-right text make this a book my children and I shall return to again and again. Moreover, Our Green City carries an important message about the environment and sustainability which will be two concepts of ever-increasing significance during the lifetimes of our younger generations. Our Green City would make a delightful introduction to these complex societal issues.
Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie has completed her MLIS degree at the University of Alberta and her MA degree in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable steering committee, works as a teacher-librarian, and resides in Victoria, British Columbia, with her husband and their two children.