June 26, 2016
Think back to the bibliography of your early childhood and — more likely than not — the majority of the titles you'd list take place in the setting of a park. It's the playground, the creek, a lost puppy, bike rides, and whatever else the imagination can conjure.
Soon, the Philadelphia area will have its own new children's book to honor one of our greatest local treasures, Wissahickon Valley Park.
Author Adam Gamble and illustrator Mark Jasper are the minds behind "Good Night Wissahickon Valley Park," an upcoming picture book that celebrates the 1,800-acre urban wilderness whose 50 miles of trails bend through the woods around Wissahickon Creek.
The story follows a family of four as they take a hike from the north end of the park to the south, visiting landmarks along the way. While the details of their stops will remain a mystery until publication, the Wissahickon Valley Park has plenty to offer visitors young and old:
Henry Avenue Bridge: Dedicated to the men and women of Philadelphia's northwest neighborhoods who served in World War I, the memorial was designed by nationally acclaimed Philadelphia architect Paul Phillippe Cret.
Toleration Statue: This monument to William Penn was a gift from local merchant John Welsh, who sought to commemorate Penn's outlook of open-minded acceptance.
Wissahickon Environmental Center: Located in the Andorra natural area, a former a tree nursery, this outpost offers programs for both children and families.
Monastery House & Stables: Built around 1750, the home of the Philadelphia Saddle Club was once a stop on the Underground Railroad during the 19th century. Lessons and boarding are available to those interested in horseback riding.
Fingerspan Bridge: Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1987, the narrow passageway of "Fingerspan" was crafted by internationally renowned artist Jody Pinto, who fabricated the sculpture using the staircase of an old ship. Much of the installation was completed by helicopter.
Friends of the Wissahickon, which has protected and preserved the parklands for more than 90 years, will hold a book launch party on Saturday, September 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Wissahickon Environmental Center. Those in attendance will hear readings of "Good Night Wissahickon Valley Park" and participate in activities including hikes, a scavenger hunt, face-painting refreshments.
Proceeds from the sale of the book will help support the protection of the Wissahickon Valley Park. RSVP information can be found here.