cover image City Green

City Green

DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12786-2

One girl's motivation and cheery attitude buoys this picture book about urban renewal and community action. Young Marcy is saddened after the city condemns and demolishes a building in her neighborhood. ``Now this block looks like a big smile with one tooth missing,'' she laments. But as springtime arrives, Marcy's thoughts turn to gardens and flowers. She and her neighbor Miss Rosa decide to clean up the lot and plant seeds there. Soon nearly everyone on the street joins in, donating time, energy and supplies to create a lush green oasis. Even crabby Old Man Hammer eventually warms up to the new look. DiSalvo-Ryan's ( Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen ) well-paced text imparts a wealth of information and emotion without sentimentalizing or preaching. The tone of Marcy's narration is occasionally poignant and always very childlike. Watercolor-and-pencil vignettes depict an overwhelmingly brown city landscape enlivened by a colorfully clad cast of ethnically diverse neighbors and, finally, a bountiful rainbow of plants. The kindly expressions of the various gardeners provide added warmth, making DiSalvo-Ryan's fictional block a nice place to visit. A helpful page of instructions for starting a community garden is also included. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)