Ricky in the City cover

Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, Notable Children’s Book

It’s early fall when Ricky and Ellie travel to Portland from their homes in the Cascade Mountains for a weekend school exchange. Much to their surprise, they find an astounding variety of wildlife in the city. With the help of their new friends, Jenny and Marcus, they explore Portland’s habitats, from its streets and gardens to woodlands, streams, and river banks. Ellie tests her bird-watching skills while Ricky learns ways to count fish in streams. Together they are fascinated by stunning wildlife in the city’s restored wetlands.

The kids find insects and reptiles moving about garden patches and bioswales, song birds and squirrels in neighborhood tree canopies, falcons and eagles crossing spacious river floodplains. As they record and map how wildlife and people are connected in these city spaces, they become community scientists, contributing to actual regional databases. After they see the young trees Marcus planted in his neighborhood, the feeders Jenny tends for hummingbirds, and the fascinating wildlife underpasses built in the wetlands, Ricky and Ellie realize there are many ways people actively care for the city’s wildlife.

In this fourth and final story of their award-winning children’s series, M. L. Herring’s vivid pen and watercolor illustrations complement the engaging storytelling of Judith Li. Readers will delight in the journal pages and maps “hand drawn” by Ricky and Ellie at the end of each chapter, while the “Dear Reader” section offers further tips for budding citizen scientists.