Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs

By Susan Hughes, illustrated by Valérie Boivin – Kids Can Press, 2018

Positive images of aging can be hard to find, especially in children’s literature, and when a children’s book features an older woman as the heroine and role model on the jacket, it catches our eye. To our delight, the inspiring text inside is just as bold and engaging. As an author and activist, Jane Jacobs made a notable impact on urban studies and sociology. This charming biography follows her from her restless childhood to her lifelong battle to get people to appreciate cities as ecosystems that support people rather than skyscrapers and cars. Jane was a child of integrity—she was sent home from school for refusing to make a promise to a teacher that she couldn’t keep. That sense of right took her into community activism to keep urban neighborhoods operating “like sidewalk ballets” where people coexist with nature and their neighbors. Jane doesn’t shy away from a powerful city planner (Robert Moses) and organizes like-minded New Yorkers in, not a ribbon-cutting, but a ribbon-tying ceremony to close Central Park to traffic. If you have a budding activist in your life, don’t miss this information-rich, beautifully told, picture-book story.