Parks for the People: How Frederick Law Olmsted Designed ­America

Viking. Mar. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984835154.
Gr 2-4–Frederick Law Olmstead appreciated nature as a respite from city life from a young age, and he wanted to make a difference in America, but it took time for those two things to converge. Ultimately, he found meaningful work and left a lasting impact by designing “common ground” such as Central Park and Prospect Park in New York, Yosemite in California, and the U.S. Capitol grounds. “Making peaceful, leafy places for everyone” was Olmstead’s “way to make a difference to America.” However, he moved often and frequently held unrelated jobs, presenting a challenge to picture book biographers; some transitions, such as when Olmstead leaves Washington, D.C., during the Civil War and follows the Gold Rush to California, are jarring. Stadtlander’s watercolor and gouache illustrations strike just the right note throughout, showcasing landscapes and townscapes peopled with small figures. Author’s note, time line, bibliography, resources.
VERDICT Because this is a less-than-cohesive biography of a category-defying personality, this is an additional purchase.

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