New Children’s Book Is for Budding Sustainable Urbanists

'Bicycles, Airships, and Things That Go!' follows a family as they discover renewable energy technologies and green infrastructure.

From Bicycles, Airships, and Things that Go!

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You’re never too young to become a sustainable urbanist. That’s the premise of a new children’s book, Bicycles, Airships, and Things That Go!. The 30 colorful pages, intended for kids 3 to 8, take a cue from the classic children’s technology picture books from the ’50s and ’60s, spinning a new tale for the age of environmentalism and climate change.

The book, written by Bernie McAllister and illustrated by John Aardema, follows a family as they travel by bike, airship, cargo scooter, high-speed train and solar-powered ferry to and from the science museum. On the way, they encounter renewable energy technologies like wind turbines, wave energy machines and portable solar briefcases; green infrastructure including streetside recycling and composting, permeable pavement and solar-powered streetlights; and gardens on buses, walls and rooftops.

The publisher, Kids Future Press, was founded by A.B. Thorpe when she realized that her own children enjoyed the technology picture books of Richard Scarry and Virginia Lee Burton, but saw that their books’ view of technological progress did not recognize what we know now about environmental impact. Thorpe herself works on sustainability issues, and is marketing the book directly to those working in the field.

“A traditional publisher wouldn’t know this audience,” she said in a statement, “but we know they work on issues such as renewable energy, bicycle infrastructure or green building, and are often confronted daily with political struggles, technical setbacks or funding challenges. The book visualizes the successful outcome of all this work in one simple story — and makes the ideas accessible to kids.”

All of the technologies and designs in the book are labeled, and the sources that inspired them can be found in the back so children can learn more. The book is also paired with a free teaching/learning guide. See a flip-through preview of the book here. And for more recs for young readers, see Next City’s “Teach Kids About Life in the Big City With These 10 Great Picture Books.”

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Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at

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Tags: urban planningsustainable citiesurbanism

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