From acclaimed children’s book biographer Sandra Neil Wallace comes the inspiring and little-known story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the remarkable journalist who saved the Florida Everglades from development and ruin.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas didn’t intend to write about the Everglades but when she returned to Florida from World War I, she hardly recognized the place that was her home. The Florida that Marjory knew was rapidly disappearing—the rare orchids, magnificent birds, and massive trees disappearing with it.
Marjory couldn’t sit back and watch her home be destroyed—she had to do something. Thanks to Marjory, a part of the Everglades became a national park and the first park not created for sightseeing, but for the benefit of animals and plants. Without Marjory, the part of her home that she loved so much would have been destroyed instead of the protected wildlife reserve it has become today.---from the publisher
56 pages 978-1-5344-3154-6 Ages 7-10
Keywords: biography, social activist, national park, women, habitat, 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, environment
Read alike: A Voice for the Everglades: Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (She Made History series) by Vicki Conrad
“There ain’t gonna be no hurry
There ain’t gonna be no rush
Just a lazy style like a crocodile
Playin’ in the mangrove brush
I’ll float on down the river
Let the speed boat speed away
I’ll drift around making gator sounds
Down in the Everglades”
-- Willie Nelson (1997)
“Marjory had never been inside the Everglades until she met gardener Ernest Coe. Coe believed that the Everglades had to be preserved before they disappeared forever. He read how much Marjory knew about the birds and the fish.
Would she go on a trip to help convince park officials to make the Everglades a national park?
Marjory couldn’t wait to go! But having never lived outdoors, she packed for a party instead of a camping trip.
Traveling by houseboat, Marjory meandered through the Glades in a string of pearls, and a silk dress with pleats as thick as the saw grass jutting through the shallow waters.
She spotted crocodiles swimming, alligators soaking up the sun, and the wiry roots of ghost orchids wrapped around the trunks of pond apples.
She saw sea turtles round as rain barrels bobbing through forests of gumbo-limbo.
Soon Marjory was covered in mosquito bites.
She didn’t care.
She’d fallen in love with the Everglades.”
I’ve never visited or studied the one-of-a-kind Everglades. But I know quite a bit about it now that I’ve read MARJORY SAVES THE EVERGLADES, a stellar picture book biography. I’ve also learned lots about the determined environmentalist for whom Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is named.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas grew up as a reader, and pursued a career as a reporter. She knew how to ask questions in order to figure out how things worked. Through her research, she discovered that the Everglades were not a big, worthless swamp to be dredged and filled in, as developers and their ilk claimed. Instead, it was a “slow-moving, life-giving river of grass.”
Marjory wrote a book about her findings and, together with Ernest Coe, she persuaded the federal government to preserve much of that river of grass.
Nevertheless, greed coupled with a lack of understanding led to the destruction of 80 percent of the original Everglades. Development, agriculture, and backward federal policies pushed the Everglades to the brink. But Marjory kept fighting, spending the majority of her 108 years educating and organizing. She instigated the nation’s largest-ever reclamation project so that the birds, plants, and wildlife of the Everglades would be safe. For this, we owe her a collective debt of gratitude.
Beginning with her first trip to Florida as a child, Marjory Stone Douglas loved the light in Florida. I love how the light, bright palette used by illustrator Rebecca Gibbon, brings a lot of joy to her acrylic and colored pencil illustrations.
MARJORY SAVES THE EVERGLADES will pair nicely with Molly Bang’s picture book biography about Diane Wilson, NOBODY PARTICULAR: ONE WOMAN’S FIGHT TO SAVE THE BAYS. I would also love to give this to young readers reading Carl HIaasen’s HOOT or FLUSH.
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA
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