Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall Reading 2015 My Hometown


Have you ever wondered what your town looked like before you were born? Maybe you've studied a time period in history class and thought, "What were things like back then?" This nearly wordless book gives you a glimpse of what a town might seem like in bygone days. The front cover gives you a hint of what's inside by juxtaposing the modern town in vibrant color on one side of the street and a black and white scene with early model automobiles on the other side. Inside, we see a typical day in a town full of people jogging and playing and beautiful fall leaves on the trees. But drifting through the sky is a newspaper that blows up to a boy on his bike. When he opens the paper, things begin to change. Suddenly we are seeing the town being built around 150 years ago (guessing from the picture of Abe Lincoln in the newspaper). The scenes change from color, to sepia, to grayscale and back again, and each two-page spread takes us to a different time. There is a page where early cars share the street with a horse and buggy. In another there are art deco flourishes on the buildings and a lady dressed in flapper style. Scenes with scrap metal drives going on are followed by equal rights demonstrations and folks in long sideburns. A recession with boarded up and abandoned buildings on the main street leads into a revitalized downtown area and a return to the present. 

Without ever saying a word beyond the introductory phrase, "Every town has a story.." these scant 40 pages take us through decades of change. It would be wonderful to use as an activity where readers can look for clues in the pages and try to date each spread by identifying clothing and hair styles, architecture, automobiles, other technology (like the things for sale in shop windows), etc. Or perhaps it could be combined with online resources like the historical imagery available in Google Earth 6, or the way WhatWasThere ties historical photos to Google Maps so that you can see how familiar streets looked in the past. It could even become a class project to find historical images to submit.  Students could even create their own version of the book featuring scenes of their town's main street. The book doesn't need words because it will generate tons of discussion.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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