City of Neighbors, the latest title in the ThinkCities series, celebrates city living, with a focus on urban neighbourhoods and neighbourly connections.
This illustrated nonfiction book envelops readers in the sights, tastes, smells, and sounds of cities. Toronto author Andrea Curtis points out that “neighborhoods where people know one another and spend time in shared spaces are more secure and comfortable.” In a lighthearted and inviting tone, Curtis prompts readers to “help create a city of neighbors.”
The narrative flows seamlessly, exploring ways citizens can work together to improve urban spaces and provides examples from well-known cities around the world. Although the design omits both headings and sidebars, which are typically standard features in informational books, each spread’s artwork effectively cues topic shifts for readers.
The process of “placemaking” is defined as improving portions of cities with “creativity, inclusiveness and a sense of fun.” Putting people and their interests first, this concept is heralded as the force behind numerous sustainable and inspiring urban projects. Many of these grassroots projects are inexpensive ones kids can undertake themselves. For example, they can host a street dance, create cheerful painted rocks, plant flowers, tend a community garden, or share pizza baked in the park. The text explores the virtues of innovative seating, brightly painted streets, vibrant murals, eye-catching sculptures, and outdoor music. Public libraries are singled out as “some of our most-loved and well-used community spaces.” City parks are applauded for activities that range from parkour and pop-up basketball to Twister or checkers – board games that neighbours can borrow from a kiosk.
The brush and ink artwork by Toronto artist Katy Dockrill has an authentic, welcoming feel that is perfect to pore over. Notable details in the illustrations include a pedestrian laden with pails of paint, a portrait honouring urban-planning genius Jane Jacobs, and scores of people interacting as they relax on park benches, walk arm in arm, exercise, walk dogs, and play.
The final spread outlines how to set a goal to improve a neighbourhood. It poses questions and lists simple steps that will lead to success. A short glossary and select sources deepen learning.
Brimming with laughter and joy, City of Neighbors is sure to be a crowd-pleaser – librarians definitely included.