A great way to see something in an entirely new light is through an artist’s eyes, and no better example of this can be found than “Meadowlands,” a charming new children’s book by former Rutherford resident Thomas F. Yezerski.
The all-color, richly illustrated book, which has received rave reviews from the likes of The New York Times, tells the story of the Meadowlands District from the time of the Lenapes to present day.
The subtitle of the book is “A Wetlands Survival Story,” and that certainly is what it is. The Meadowlands is in the midst of an amazing environmental recovery, but to appreciate how far we’ve come, we have to look back at where we’ve been.
Yezerski’s ability to encapsulate that story in 32 pages – in a fashion that will fascinate kids and adults alike — is testament to his abilities as both writer and artist.
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“There’s a story in it for kids as young as 4 or 5 years old, and even teenagers and adults might be interested in all the tiny weird details of things that are going on around them — things they had no idea were happening,” Tom says.
One of my favorite illustrations, which stretches over two pages, is an up-close dragonfly with a turnpike bridge over the Hackensack River in the background. The ink-and-water color drawing captures the essence of Meadowlands nature, where man and dragonfly somehow co-exist.
Below that illustration, Tom writes: “When chemical dumping stopped, the marsh could slowly filter pollution out of the water…,” which brought better water quality, which allowed dragonflies and other bugs to thrive.”
I am proud to say that the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission – in tandem with the Clean Water Act – was one of the main reasons that the chemical dumping stopped and the recovery of the river and its marshes began.
That’s one reason why the commission is proud to join the Bergen County Audubon Society in sponsoring a free talk and slide show by Tom for children ages 6 and up and their families on Saturday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m. in DeKorte Park.
Tom will read from his book, display examples of his art work on a big screen, and talk about how he was attracted to becoming an artist as a child — and how he gets his ideas for his books.
The other reason that the Meadowlands Commission is proud to sponsor the event is we want families to come see first-hand the environmental recovery that Tom writes about and draws so perceptively.
Although Tom frets that mankind might still mess things up, he says: “Maybe we’ve gotten over the hardest part. The Meadowlands could become this jewel that everyone around the world looks to as a place where natural balance can be achieved.”
NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright maintains the Commission’s daily nature blog, meadowblog.net, featuring beautiful photography and the latest info on the region’s natural wonders.