Thursday, April 16, 2015

On Meadowview Street: A Book Review

I first learned of On Meadowview Street in a preschool nature program at Elkhart County Parks. I loved how one girl who chose to protect a flower could influence her whole neighborhood. That theme of there being good things in this world and actually being the good has resonated with me the last several years. What we do matters.

On Meadowview Street, by Henry Cole, describes the tale of a young girl moving to a new neighborhood. Having moved probably twenty times in my forty years of life, I instantly could relate to the moving truck on the first page and the furniture on the lawn as the family moved into their new house. The girl, Caroline, soon notices a small blossom as her father is mowing. She develops a bond as she admires its beauty. Caroline decides she'll save this flower. She puts up a string fence around the flower. The father agrees, as it's less mowing for him. My husband really likes this path of least resistance too. We'll have to plant even more natives to cut down on his mowing.

As she protected her small wildlife preserve, she noticed another wildflower and expanded her fence until it was quite large. Butterflies started to visit. Her father put the lawn mower up for sale. Caroline decided she needed a shady spot and her parents helped get a maple tree for the yard. Soon, a wren visited the tree. Of course, they needed to build a bird house for the wren. A nest was built in the birdhouse. Caroline realized they would need water and she and her dad mad a pond.

"The more Caroline and her family worked on their yard, the more  it changed. It was now a home to many things." As we read through the story, more and more life is found in the yard, in contrast to the short lawns in neighboring yards. Children, however, are peeking over the fence to see the many things in Caroline's yard. Soon, the neighbors' yards start changing as well.

"Now there really was a meadow On Meadowview Street . . . and a home for everyone." Many of the animals and flowers that can be found in the yard are illustrated, from the mud turtle to the brown bat, to the black-eyed Susan.

This is a simple book with lovely illustrations. It's a great read aloud book. The reader easily can see the sequence of events as the yard keeps growing and growing, becoming a great natural habitat.

I immediately think of the book, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded e by Doug Tallamy as I look through the illustrations. He advocates native plants that will host the insects that the larger animals need to continue the food chain. Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded is a great counter part book for adults to understand on a more scientific level the need to use our yards for more than lush green grass that supports little wildlife.

Here is a little video to hear the book first hand. I personally would follow this book up with an activity to bring the message home, such as planting native plants, building a bird house, or planning ways to improve the habitat in one's own yard, such as adding a water element. Here is a website that lists several extension activities and related books as well. I'm grateful for people who pull together good ideas! Teaching Books also has some suggestions, including a reader's theater! That makes me miss teaching first grade. :-)

This post may contain affiliate links. I found On Meadowview Street at my local library and received Bringing Nature Home through the Indiana Master Naturalist program.