A sweet, thoughtful story about the beauty and wonder of the natural world, Our Great Big Backyard was written by former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's National Park Service. Young Jane is looking forward to a summer vacation spent playing video games with her friends when she learns that instead, her family is embarking on a summer road trip to see the country's national parks. Skeptical at first, Jane soon finds herself fascinated by the astounding views and incredible beauty of the great outdoorswhether in the Everglades, or in her own backyard. Read More
Our Great Big Backyard
Our Great Big Backyard
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To help commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service, #1 New York Times bestselling authors former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager have created an exuberant tribute to our national parks and the importance and fun of connecting with nature.
Our Great Big Backyard follows Jane, whose plans of spending the summer playing video games with her friends are dashed when her parents announce that her family is going on a road trip to national parks around the country.
Somewhere between the Everglades and Big Bend National Park, things begin to change. Jane starts paying attention to the magnificent sights and spends less time looking at her screen.
The stunning views open up her imagination as she and her brother see everything that nature has to offer. And the more Jane discovers, the more she realizes how much there is to love about the outdoors—whether she's in a national park across the country or right in her own backyard.
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Gr 1–3—It would be a rare child who enjoys the thinly disguised lesson at the heart of this ostensible celebration of the National Park Service's 100th anniversary. Jane and her friends are looking forward to spending their summer playing with their electronic devices. Predictably enough, when Jane's parents tell her that she will instead be going on a family road trip to visit national parks, she pouts and spends the first part of the journey glued to various screens. A conveniently timed meteor shower prompts a rapid turnabout, and Jane learns to appreciate the great outdoors. Told in the first person, the narration is at times cringe-inducing—Jane's friends are her "crew," and their plans for the summer are "awesome!" and super-duper!"—and at other times simply unbelievable: "Then, bless my lucky stars, a meteor shower lit up the sky like fireworks—brighter than any screen I had ever seen." The illustrations do little to save the day. Too often, the national parks that are purportedly this volume's raison d'être simply don't inspire: the Grand Canyon, which shares a spread with a desert scene, looks flat and small in its cramped quarters, while Old Faithful, inexplicably portrayed as a rocket from one of Jane's video games, looks unimpressive behind a fence that doesn't exist in actuality. The characters come across as two-dimensional, wearing remarkably similar facial expressions—mostly grins—from spread to spread. Particularly worrisome is the illustration of Jane and her brother admiring a pair of bear cubs at close range—extremely dangerous behavior. VERDICT Save your budget for one of the other titles about the national park system that are timed for the centennial.—Eileen Makoff, P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School, NY
A family road trip through several national parks transforms young Jane's feelings about missing out on a summer of online fun with her friends."There's absolutely nothing to see here," Jane emails fretfully as her family drives through the scenic Smoky Mountains and canoes past alligators and manatees in the Everglades. But once her dad gets her to put the tablet away and look through a telescope at the night skies over Big Bend National Park, her attitude transforms: "OH WOW!" Soon she's tiptoeing over the Grand Canyon's Skywalk like an acrobat, playing pirate on a raft down the Colorado River, scouting out "Mountain lions, buffalo, and bears. Oh my!" in Yellowstone—and, discovering that she's misplaced her electronic device, sending written postcards to her friends from Yosemite. Furthermore, once back home, what better way to debrief than a backyard cookout under the stars? Giving blonde Jane and the rest of her white family broad, pleasant features, Rogers sends them smiling and singing their way through a succession of natural wonders, with bears and bald eagles, footnotes (adult supervision required on the Skywalk, for instance), and only a few fellow, occasionally diverse tourists in the background. Endpaper maps track the long itinerary, and a (select) list of other national parks and sites in each state offers more destinations.Produced to celebrate the National Park Service's upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to "get out there!" (Picture book. 6-8)
|Age Range:||Up to 4 Years|