From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–An eye-popping resource for any child curious about the state of the natural world in the Big Apple. Those who believe the city to be home only to squirrels, pigeons, rats, and the occasional cockroach will be astounded by the wide variety of life revealed within these pages. The book combines colorful illustrations and hundreds of photographs with a text that details everything from history to rock formations to the city's public gardens. Each chapter examines a different aspect of nature, spotting the text with sights of interest and ways in which readers can interact with the world around them. The book encourages environmental conservancy while dishing up little-known facts (such as the existence of rooftop beehives in Brooklyn) in an appealing format. Matsen turns cold, hard facts into riveting reading with apparent ease. The book will be of most interest to native New Yorkers, with a few aspects appealing to city dwellers and kids concerned about the environment elsewhere.–Elizabeth Bird, Jefferson Market Branch, NY
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Gr. 4-6. Skippy the squirrel, a bagel-nibbling native New Yorker, leads this picture-book tour through New York City's "true wildness," with chapters that cover the area's water, rocks, air, plants, and animals as well as a closing section about food production and waste removal. Packed with color photographs, cartoons, diagrams, and numerous sidebars, the crowded spreads don't allow for much elaboration on such topics as the water cycle or the differences between cloud types. Still, there's an impressive array of basic science here, described mostly in accessible, enthusiastic text. Students will find enough to support reports, and the open format will attract browsers. Whatever the subject, the spreads remind young people that even a concrete jungle is a thriving natural habitat, with thousands of species, including the infamous cockroach, which gets celebrity status in its own close-up spread. Teachers and students will gain a heightened awareness of urban ecology as well as new ideas for preserving the natural resources in their own areas. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved