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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Look Where We Live! A First Book about Community Building. Written and illustrated by Scot Ritchie. Kids Can Press, 2015. $16.95 ages 4 and up

"Next stop is Amir's gas station. This is where Yulee brings her bike when her tires need air. Today Amir is having a car wash party. He wants to thank the people who come to his garage. All the money he makes will go to the library."

This is a fine addition to a set of books by Scot Ritchie that includes previous titles, Follow That Map! and Look at That Building! The children from those books return with a new goal in mind. They want to raise money to be donated to the library.

Mr. Ritchie begins with a bird's-eye view of what the community looks like in its entirety. He also re-introduces the children - Nick, Yulee, Pedro, Sally, Martin, and Max, the dog from his previous works. From above we can see important landmarks and those buildings that will be noted as we explore the community itself.

Each double-page spread will help young readers to see what a community looks like, what happens when community members come together to do something that will make a difference where they live, and the support that is given one to the other in trying to make it safe and strong.  A yard sale, visiting local stores, a car wash, working together to clean up streets and parks, painting a giant decorative mural, listening to stories told by elderly community members, the library, a communal garden, a game at the soccer pitch, and the many workers who do their jobs to provide guidance for everyone are all included.

Each spread provides accessible information and offers food for thought for the intended audience.

"Martin wanted to visit the community garden, where people share a large piece of land to grow flowers and vegetables. Lots of people in the neighborhood have a garden here. It's a great way to make friends! Today some people are selling what they have grown. They are going to donate the money they earn to the library. In a community garden you can grow your own food. What would you grow? Beans? Tomatoes? Pumpkins?"

Encouragement is given to think seriously about the kind of community you can create, and ways to raise money for community growth and fun. Directions are clearly given in backmatter for making a puzzle project. A glossary of 'words to know' brings the book to its conclusion.

The watercolor artwork will hold attention. The detailed illustrations invite young children to have a close look and take note of all that is going on, searching for pets and for the children. It's perfect as an introduction for little ones to help them understand the concepts presented.

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