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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

Hours

  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Top of the Shelf: Meadowlands

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) Good research, gorgeous illustration, and a perfect pace and tone come together in this hopeful story about changes over time in 20,000 acres of New Jersey wetlands. The book opens with a map giving the Meadowlands its context in relation to parts of New York, New Jersey, and the Atlantic. We then get just slightly closer to the area with a view over the Empire State Building toward what many think of as "smelly swamps" or just the location of an airport. We move back in time to when the Lenni Lenape hunted and gathered food. Some of what they found is illustrated in the margins, while on the following full page spread, we see changes made by incoming Europeans and some of what they brought. Pen and ink and watercolors are done with a sure hand that evidences the creator's love of a place where he ran and canoed. Without needing much commentary, the next illustrations show changes brought by twentieth century traffic and garbage dumps, then choices about how to handle the way they affected the wetlands. We learn a bit of science about how marshes can be revived, seeing how lessening pollution brings more oxygen, which helps bacteria in the water "mix into a nutritious soup for snails, worms, and insects." Fish return, along with frogs, turtles, and crabs, then birds, including sandpipers, ducks, egrets, cranes, and ospreys. Thanks are given to "the Meadowlands' most powerful species -- humans" for making these changes possible, and the story ends with a girl on a class trip to a salt marsh, one of the many to help raise awareness about pollution and how it can be turned around. We learn more about the changes over time in the Author's Note. The bibliography includes Lynne Cherry's A River Ran Wild, which focuses on the Nashua River in New England, and like this book, eloquently addresses changes over vast amounts of time, and uses artwork in the margins to develop the scope of an important and hopeful story. They make the reader want to turn back the pages and start again, finding more details to cherish.  

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