Translated from the French (J’aime ma ville), I Love My City, a nonfiction STEM title, explores every facet of cities: history and evolution, planning and organization, special services, unique architecture, and diverse cultures. For example, readers learn that Jericho (Palestine) is more than 11,000 years old (making it the oldest city in the world), and that many early cities developed on waterways, which were tied to trade networks.
Maintaining a broad focus, Montreal authors France Desmarais and Richard Adam call attention to lesser-known cities such as La Paz (Colombia) and Stevenage (United Kingdom). While no city takes centre stage, Montreal is noted six times, Toronto appears twice, and Vancouver and Ottawa once each. Certainly, for kids who like math, there is ample stimulation around population density, area, comparisons, and fractions (e.g., more than half the world’s population resides in cities). Current issues are addressed with such topics as sustainable design, recycling programs, and the preservation of historic buildings. To illustrate how some cities have developed, the book mentions inclusive values, accessible services, and LGBTQ-friendly neighbourhoods. But it glosses over poverty, despite a section about slums.
The layout provides generous white space. No more than two sidebars appear on each spread, which may leave readers wanting more. Well-researched sidebars provide fascinating information, such as word origins or historical anecdotes. Descriptive titles flag the content above some sidebars, but most sidebars lack this handy – often expected – feature.
Yves Dumont, a Montreal artist, beautifully showcases the allure of city life with colourful and appealing scenes. The artwork depicts vibrant architecture (from tipis and palaces to skyscrapers and bridges), throngs of citizens, plans for garden cities (today’s suburbs), transportation networks, green spaces, culture, and more. Technical drawings are integral to understanding city water, sanitation, and energy systems. An anthropomorphized kitten appears a dozen times, but its role is unclear – is it a tribute to Richard Scarry’s Busytown characters, a search-and-find activity for younger siblings, or a splash of fictional whimsy?
The text includes appropriately challenging vocabulary for its middle-grade readership and it is packed with more than 100 boldface terms, though the glossary defines only eight: the ones marked with an asterisk. However, teachers can visit a link to access more materials related to civics, social studies, history, science, and technology. I Love My City will prompt deeper learning by encouraging kids to think globally, explore on foot, and participate actively in shaping their city.