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Children's Nonfiction Social Activists

Walking in the City with Jane

A Story of Jane Jacobs

by (author) Susan Hughes

illustrated by Valérie Boivin

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2018
Social Activists, Politics & Government, City & Town Life
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 9
  • Grade: 1 to 4
  • Reading age: 6 to 9


From the time she was a young girl, Jane Jacobs' curious mind made her a keen observer of everything around her. When she grew up, she moved to New York City, a place full of new wonders for her to explore. It was there she realized that, just like in nature, a city is an ecosystem. “It is made of different parts --- sidewalks, parks, stores, neighborhoods, City Hall . . . and people, of course. When they all work together, the city is healthy.” So, when city planner Robert Moses proposed creating highways through the city that would destroy neighborhoods and much of what made New York great, Jane decided she couldn't let it happen. She stood up to the officials and rallied her neighbors to stop the plans ---and even got arrested! Jane's bravery and ideas had a huge influence on urban planning that is still being felt today.

In this lively and engaging informational picture book, award-winning author Susan Hughes provides a fictionalized story of the life of Jane Jacobs, one of the world's greatest urban thinkers and activists. This book makes a terrific resource for studying civic engagement, urban life, the history of New York and Toronto (where Jane moved later in life), and the role of city planning. Jane's inspirational story is also an excellent example for character education lessons on perseverance, citizenship and initiative. Stylized illustrations by Valérie Boivin perfectly evoke the story's time and place. End matter includes a brief biography of Jane Jacobs.

About the authors


Susan Hughes
a étudié la littérature anglaise à l'Université de Toronto. Depuis, elle
écrit et publie des livres pour enfants, à la fois des fictions et des
documentaires. Elle habite avec sa famille à Toronto.


Susan Hughes studied English literature at the University of Toronto. She writes both fiction and non-fiction children's books. She lives with her family in Toronto.

Susan Hughes' profile page

Valérie Boivin is a freelance illustrator with a degree in graphic design from Laval University. Her work can be found in children's books and magazines. She lives in Quebec City.

Valérie Boivin's profile page


  • Winner, OLA Light Reads Great Stories, Forest of Reading, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens, The Canadian Children's Book Centre

Editorial Reviews

Jane's influence remains relevant today, whether it's via ongoing efforts to protect nature and local communities from commercial development or in the way she combined family life with activism.

Quill & Quire

... altogether delightful ...

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

... an excellent introduction to Jane Jacobs' life, her urban philosophy and her years of determined opposition to projects that would destroy what she valued in cities.

Canadian Children's Book News

... highly recommended ...

Resource Links

This book is a wellspring of opportunity to engage your students with their own community and challenge preset ideas that newer is always best.

ETFO Voice

... encourages readers to take a stand and voice their opinions about important issues ...

CM Magazine

Hughes offers a compelling overview of Jacobs's contributions to urban planning while introducing readers to a new way of seeing their own city environments.

Publishers Weekly

Jane Jacobs was well overdue for a picture book!

A Mighty Girl

An inspiring and appealing snapshot of a strong woman and activist, her world and her legacy, told with warmth and charm.

Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Susan Hughes

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