Back in June, I finally read Jason Chin’s beautiful work Grand Canyon. I was completely blown away by his illustrations and methods used to capture a child’s attention and teach them a wealth of information on the Grand Canyon. When I learned about the other titles he has written, I decided that I had to gather them up to see what there was to learn. Not surprisingly, his other books were just as beautiful and just as important for young researchers, adventurers, explorers, and inquisitive minds.
Island – A Story of the Galápagos is a fascinating look at the evolution of the Galápagos Islands and of the animals who lived there. Chin, in his remarkable way, takes the reader from birth to death of an individual island in a manner that is both entertaining and educational.
From a volcanic eruption these islands grew, but took many, many years before they could become hospitable to life. As the eruptions continued, the islands would grow, but then as they ended, the islands very slowly began to sink into the sea. Their sheer existence changed the animals and wildlife around them.
For me, the most fascinating part came in the section discussing the evolution of the animals who called the island home. As Chin explains in the end of the book, Charles Darwin spent five weeks studying the plants and animals of the Galápagos and it influenced his book, The Origin of Species. When Chin not only tells, but shows, how the animals evolved, he definitely grabbed my attention.
Ever start reading a book and feel like you have become a part of the story, your reality falling away? That’s the concept behind Chin’s striking book about Coral Reefs. I wish I had known about this one when J was completely fascinated by reefs (it was her special project in 3rd grade).
When a young girl pulls a book off the shelf in the library, she is slowly transported to a world under the sea. Beginning with each type of coral, we slowly learn how the ecosystem of the coral reefs are built. The reefs are not alone, they are the home to many types of plants and animals and they all support or feed each other.
Like all of Chin’s books, he lures the reader in and then gives them an amazing lesson with absolutely gorgeous imagery. For this book, he did research in Belize, but in the back of the book he gives information on other areas that support coral reefs as well. Chin also talks about the threat to the coral reefs, perhaps encouraging a young mind to help make a difference.
In a similar manner, a young boy finds a book about Redwoods while waiting for the subway and winds up walking out into a redwood forest in the book Redwoods.
In this book, Chin’s artistry takes center stage in the education process. He manages to get so many amazing facts into 32 pages that this becomes an important resource for any classroom studying their special ecosystem. From how the trees make their own water, protect themselves from fire, house animals, and even grow plants among their branches, this is a remarkable book.
Finally, Gravity is Chin’s most simplistic book, aimed at our youngest learners. But it is still filled with lots of great information and a marvelous spread of detailed information in the back of the book.
I am amazed by the quality of work that Chin produces. These are an invaluable resource for elementary schools and the inquisitive mind.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. The number of amazing nonfiction picture books I have found from other challenge bloggers shows me how great a resource it is. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!
Jason Chin’s books are an absolute treasure for anyone who loves nonfiction and wants to help change people’s negative impressions of nonfiction as “boring” or “stuffy”. I mean, just look at those illustrations! How could a young reader not be drawn in and fascinated?