I’ve spent a lot of time reading kids’ nonfiction over the last few years. Partly because I enjoy it (and so do my boys) and partly for research purposes as I began thinking about writing my first book aimed at children.
Over and over, writer/editor Hadley Dyer’s name came up. Her book, Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces, with illustrator Marc Ngui, is a brilliant look at the importance of public space and how kids can be advocates for it. She’s also written some 13 other books and is executive editor of children’s books at HarperCollins, with authors like Dennis Lee, Kenneth Oppel and Michael Redhill in her stable.
Now, in between her full-time work as an editor, Hadley’s managed to write a new book for young readers, this one about urban agriculture. Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City is a fun and informative trip through the world of growing food in urban areas. From spaceship-shaped greenhouses to aquarium aquaponics, from growing strawberries in old shoes to raising chickens in backyards, the book is full of interesting facts, helpful how-tos (composting, creating a teaching garden) and lots of food for thought.
With a combination of illustrations and photos, bite-size information blocks and longer narrative, it’s a book to dive into again and again. Hadley manages to strike a easy-going, playful tone but Potatoes on Rooftops is also a call to action for kids to “Join the good food revolution.” In a foreword written by food activists Brian Cook and Barbara Emanuel, they explain: “The decisions we make today will affect the food system in the future and will have long-term consequences for humanity.”