Sunday, October 11, 2020

Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas
written by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
Paula Wiseman Books, 2020, 56 pages

By now, most of us recognize the name Marjory Stoneman Douglas because of the tragic 2018 shooting that happened in the high school named in her honor just east of the Everglades. But few of us know why the school was named after Marjory. Now, thanks to the excellent research by Sandra Neil Wallace, we have our answer. 

In this richly illustrated picture book for older readers, Wallace begins her biography with Marjory's first trip to Florida to visit her dad where she fell in love with the sunshine. Returning home, Marjory grew up, attended Wellesley College, got married and divorced, until finally she headed back to Florida to work as a reporter for her father's newspaper, the Miami Herald. It was there that Marjory found the voice she would need later as an activist.

During WWI, Marjory enlisted in the Navy and went to Europe with the Red Cross. But when she retuned to Florida after the war, she was absolutely dismayed to see how much of the Everglades had disappeared as developers dynamited, dug and drained it to expand post-war building. 
But dismay wouldn't save the destruction of the Everglades, It would take a visit by Ernest Coe, a landscape architect, and a meandering trip with him through the glades that made Marjory realize that the Everglades needed to become "a national park to save the birds, the plants, and the other wildlife."
But how to convince the National Park Service, who felt that 'a swamp is a swamp.' Other people just wanted to drain the Everglades to expand the land and build. But, Marjory wondered, were the Everglades really just a swamp, or were they something else? Something beautiful, living and unique? By now middled aged, Marjory was determined to find the answers to her questions, and dedicated the rest of her life to saving her adopted home from hungry developers, including the U. S. Army. 

And although the area became the Everglades National Park in 1947, it didn't stop developers. But through activism and organization, Marjory and the group she formed, Friends of the Everglades, managed to get developers to reverse their destructive building, restoring this unique ecosystem back to what it once was. 

Marjory Saves the Everglades is a such an inspiring story for young readers, showing them what a difference one dedicated voice can make in the world. Marjory lived to be 108 years old, but was an early activist, a suffragette and feminist, before she became involved in saving the Everglades and Wallace has really captured her independent spirit. The book is written in accessible language, and includes quotes by Marjory from various sources including her own work River of Grass. Marjory Saves the Everglades would make a wonderful addition to any STEM classes learning about ecosystems and the environment. 

Rebecca Gibbon's folk-art style illustrations, done with acrylic inks and colored pencils, are the perfect compliment to a book about the Everglades, done in shades of brilliant greens and blues, and including lots of vibrant birds, grasses and flowers throughout.  

Wallace's back matter includes an Author's Note, a page of creatures and plants indigenous to the Everglades, a Timeline of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Everglades, some tips for protecting the environment, as well as additional resources for learning more about this amazing, but overlooked woman. 

You can find an in-depth Discussion Guide courtesy of Sandra Neil Wallace HERE
You can also download an Activity Kit courtesy of Sandra Neil Wallace HERE

Sandra Neil Wallace hope that her stories inspire readers as much as they inspire her. Her book The Teachers March! How Selma's Teachers Changed History was written with her husband, Rich Wallace, and has received three starred reviews to date. Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery received the Orbis Pictus Book Award, was an ALA notable Book and a Booklist Top 10 Biography for Youth. Formerly, Sandra was an ESPN reporter and was the first woman to host an NHL broadcast. She continues to break barriers as co-founder of and lives with her family in New Hampshire. You can find Sandra at

IMO, Marjory's life and work become even more important these days as we hear about developers eyeing National Parks for their natural resources. 

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was gratefully received from Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media

No comments:

Post a Comment

Imagination Designs