Friday, March 02, 2018

790 (2018 #13). Grand Canyon

by Jason Chin

This wonderful informational science nonfiction book won a 2018 American Library Association (ALA) Randolph Caldecott Honor designation, as a runner up to the the Medalist, which "honors the illustrator of the year's most distinguished American picture book for children."  I think this book should have been that Medalist!

It was also a runner-up for the 2018 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for the most distinguished informational book for children, and the winner of the 2018 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, established in 1989 by the National Council for the Teachers of English for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children.  This book is also on the 2018-2019 Texas Bluebonnet Award reading list.

 I LOVE this book!  Through the metaphor of a hike from the bottom of the canyon up to the top, author/illustrator Jason Chin packs tons of information about the ecosystems, rock layers, and paleontology into the book, using clever techniques like the following:

1.  marginalia, illustrations in the margins that provide additional information - such as this example of a part of one page, of plants and animals one might find in each of the ecosystems;

2.  die cuts, used with fossils the hikers encounter (such as in this clip of part of another illustration)....

...which is perfectly placed for the following double-page spread, where the young girl hiker is immersed in the past in the environment the fossilized plant or animal lived in;

3.  a double gatefold at the end of the book that is just gorgeous (not gonna spoil that one);

4.  EIGHT pages of illustrated back matter with even more information, author's note, and bibliography,


5.  Beautiful endpapers with a map of the Grand Canyon in front and a generalized cross-section in back.

The illustrations are done in pen and ink, watercolor, and gouache.  Some of the near-full-page illustrations have white borders, and with their detail, look almost like photographs in an album.  In an interview, Chin talks about his research process for the book.

Younger children will enjoy the basic story, told through Chin's large illustrations, while older readers can delve into more detail through the marginalia and back matter.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[This book has been purchased and will be added to my university library's collection.]

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