Another superb contribution to scientific literature by Chin.

ISLAND

A beautifully made picture book presents the story of the Galápagos Islands for young readers.

It’s not easy to present the story of island formation, species colonization and evolution in a picture book, but Chin succeeds admirably, challenging intelligent young readers with sophisticated concepts but presenting them in a way that will allow readers not only to understand them, but to marvel at them, as well. As in Chin’s previous volumes, Redwoods (2009) and Coral Reefs (2011), gorgeous watercolor illustrations lure readers into the scientific story. Chin is careful to point out in his author’s note the necessity of speculation and educated guesses, given how far in the past the story takes place. But the work is top-notch narrative nonfiction, based on the best current scientific research.  An eye-catching variety of horizontal panels, thumbnails and full-bleed pages makes science visual. Especially effective is the discussion of how species change over time: The finches’ beaks become larger, tortoises’ shells change shape, and cormorants’ wings shrink. In the epilogue, after millions of years of evolution, a ship appears, and a man comes ashore, pen and notebook in hand. It’s Charles Darwin, as explained in the backmatter, where his theory of evolution by natural selection is explained and further information on the Galápagos Islands and their indigenous species is presented.

Another superb contribution to scientific literature by Chin.   (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-716-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Outstanding suspense.

WILDFIRE

WHEN TREES EXPLODE

A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Sam and Delphy are staying at separate summer camps on the same lake when the threat of a wildfire forces evacuation—but both are inadvertently left behind. Using the survival skills he learned from his deceased father, Sam hikes cross-country until he finds a remote cabin and the old Jeep that will prove to be his salvation. Only later, barreling along a narrow logging road, does he encounter Delphy. With shades of My Side of the Mountain for a modern audience, 2010 Newbery Honoree Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg) provides the pair of young adolescents, both white, with just enough modern technology to keep the tale credible. It will take all of their courage and wits to survive being lost in the wilderness, even as they are constantly threatened both by the erratic fire and the danger posed by two out-of-control arsonists. Sam’s pithy first-person voice is self-deprecating enough to be fully believable and plays nicely against Delphy’s sometimes less confident but heroically determined character. Short chapters, outstanding cover art, and a breathless pace make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. Interesting backmatter regarding wildfires and survival tips rounds out a thrilling tale.

Outstanding suspense. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26690-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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