Meadowlands by Thomas F. Yezerski

81166232Lynn: “Some people think it’s just smelly swamps.”  Yezerski shows us how wrong this notion is in Meadowlands (Farrar 2011) but it wasn’t too long ago that this vibrant ecosystem nestled on the Hackensack River was poisoned and foul.  Illustrated with beautiful water color paintings, Yezersky takes us back to pre-colonial times when the wetlands encompassed 20,000 acres and was home to many species of plants, animals and Native Americans.  The following pages chronicle the horrifying impact of “civilization” that drove out the animals and birds, poisoned the air and water and reduced the area to only 7,000 acres.  Happily this is a success story too and when the state began to close the landfills and ban the dumping, the resilient area began to recover. This heartening story is my favorite section, showing just what can be done even in an urban area to protect and preserve our environment.  The illustrations chronicling the recovery are often from a uniquely crab or bird level perspective that is especially effective.

I loved this book from the first page from the sweeping landscapes to the exquisitely detailed drawings that border the pages, reminding me of childhood favorite Holling C. Holling’s work.  This turned out to be a favorite of our focus group as well as renewing my belief that young readers don’t always want loud books in primary colors with smashing and crashing.  This is a book they sit a long time with, examining the tiny drawings with care and interest.  I used this book with great success as a classroom read aloud and the teacher reported that the book got constant traffic for independent reading after that.  Don’t miss the photograph of the osprey nesting site in the Wetlands on the last page.

An interesting author’s note, and very helpful bibliography with print and web sources complete this fine book.

nonfiction_mondayCheck out other nonfiction choices at Books Together for Nonfiction Monday.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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