Sunday, August 2, 2020



 ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

“Imagine a city draped in a blanket of green … Is this the city you know?” 

This book of narrative non-fiction looks at the urban forest, starting with a bird’s-eye view of the tree canopy, then swooping down to street level, digging deep into the ground, then moving up through a tree’s trunk, back into the leaves and branches.

It discusses the problems that city trees face, such as the abundance of concrete, poor soil, and challenging light conditions. It traces the history of trees in cities over time, showing how industrialization and the growth of populations in urban centers led to the creation of places like Central Park in New York City, where people could enjoy nature and clean air. It wasn’t until Dutch Elm disease swept across North America, killing hundreds of thousands of trees, that people realized how important trees are to our cities.

So how can we create a healthy environment for city trees? Some urban foresters are trying to create better growing conditions using specially designed soil trenches or planters, they are planting diverse species to reduce the harm of invasive pests, and they are maintaining trees as they age, among a number of other strategies.
The urban forest is a complex ecosystem, and we are a part of it. Trees make our cities more beautiful and provide shade but they also fight climate change and pollution, benefit our health and connections to one another, provide food and shelter for wildlife, and much more. It is vital that we nurture our city forests.

Includes a list of activities to help the urban forest and a glossary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

Andrea Curtis is an award-winning writer in Toronto. She writes for both adults and children.

Her first YA novel is Big Water, published by Orca. It's inspired by the true story of a shipwreck on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, and the harrowing experience of the two teenaged survivors.

Her most recent kids' book is Eat This! How Fast Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and How to Fight Back) published by Red Deer Press. It was named one of the best books of 2018 by both Kirkus Review and School Library Journal. It is a followup to her first award-winning children's book, What's for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World, also published by Red Deer Press.

Her most recent adult book, written with Nick Saul, is the National Bestseller, The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement. It is published by Random House Canada and Melville House Press in the US and UK. It was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and won the Taste Canada Award for Culinary Narratives.

Andrea's critically acclaimed creative non-fiction book Into the Blue: Family Secrets and the Search for a Great Lakes Shipwreck (Random House) won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction.

Andrea lives in Toronto, Canada, with her family.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR {from his website}:

Being born in 1962 isn’t easy, but that’s exactly what Pierre Pratt did, on a February 8th. Little by little, he began to grow. Like any growing artist, he drew the objects around him, the people he met, in the quiet atmosphere of his little room, his face a mask of perfect concentration. He still retains that expression. He studied graphic design at Ahuntsic College in Montreal. At the beginning of the 1980s, he began drawing small comic strips. Then he turned to illustration. He did his apprenticeship with several different magazines in Quebec. Since 1990, he has been illustrating (and also writing) books for children, some 50 by now. He has won several prizes, including the Governor-General’s Award of Canada three times, a Golden Apple and a Golden Platein Bratislava, a Totem at the Montreuil Salon du Livre in France, a UNICEF Prize in Bologna, the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, the Elizabeth Cleaver Prize, the Mr. Christie Book Award, and the TD Children’s Literature Award. In 2008 he represented Canada for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.


This book is the the first installment of the publisher's 'ThinkCities' series. The picture book format of this book is perfect for the subject matter and the art work included with its covers.

This book covers earth science, environmental science, history of trees, botany, city planning, engineering, public health, and sociology. There is so much information included in this book that it will make a perfect thematic unit of study for a middle-grade classroom.

The author begins by explaining why cities are difficult places for trees to thrive and to even survive. Lack of rainwater, pollution, heat, and lack of sunlight all contribute to the challenges trees must overcome in order to flourish in 'our concrete jungles'. (page 4)

The illustrator's artwork effectively supports the author's narrative. I really liked the manner in which he drew a forest and a city street as a 'slice' drawing showing the ground beneath these areas.

Here's a link to the publisher's website which shows three pages from the book: BOOK'S PAGE ON PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE

This book is rich with higher-level vocabulary, beautiful illustrations of diverse citizens living together in diverse communities, and excellent Back Matter. 'Speak for the trees!' is a section after the main narrative which encourages readers to be advocates for trees in their home communities. The 'Glossary' includes many scientific terms used in the book. 'Selected Sources' includes several websites where students and teachers will find more information on the subject.

Note: On the publisher's website the grade level recommendation for this book is: Grades 3-7.

Highly-recommended for teachers, librarians, families, scout groups, and adults who want to learn a lot about the how and why trees don't survive in the city.

I borrowed this book from the 'New Arrivals' shelf in the local public library.


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.


Find the links to more great 'It's Monday! What Are You Reading?' (#IMWAYR) posts for children's and Young Adult books over at the Unleashing Readers website.






  1. Sounds like the perfect book to initiate discussion about these environmental problems for cities. Great format, too. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  2. This sounds like a great book! I've been going on a lot more walks since the pandemic eliminated all of the other reasons to leave the house, and it's interesting to think about all of the trees in my neighborhood that, while planted by humans, have created their own natural ecosystem around us! Thanks for the great review!

  3. I appreciate books that deal with the environment in a child-friendly manner and energize kids to wat to get involved in protecting trees in their communities. Gorgeous book with a nice layout.

  4. Agree with everyone else. This sound like a great non-fiction book about the environment.

  5. I also enjoy encountering books that can introduce kids to environmental topics in a friendly way. Being good stewards of the land and understanding our relationship with the natural world is an important topic that should be accessible to kids. Looks like a great book for opening that discussion!

  6. Thanks for reviewing this book. I've been looking for a good nonfiction book and this sounds very interesting and living in NYC, I really appreciate tress and their problems. They cut down the tree in front of my windows and the temperature in my apartment went up 20 degrees when the sun shines in. And I miss the birds that used to live in it.

  7. Sounds like an interesting book. City parks and lots of trees are so important. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. This sounds like a great book. As an avid gardener and lover of trees- I can imagine there are a lot of challenges when it comes to growing trees in cities. Green space is so important- so I am glad people (and trees) rise to the challenge. :)

  9. I think I'd like to read this one. I'll have to see if our library has it. I live in Sacramento which is called the City of Trees, which is an apt name. I love all the trees in the city. Thanks for the post.