Books by Richard Sobol

GROWING PEACE by Richard Sobol
Released: Sept. 15, 2016

"A welcome addition to children's nonfiction from a master photojournalist. (author's note, glossary, sources) (Nonfiction. 7-12)"
Large, full-color photographs accompany the true story of one man's efforts to bring together people of three religions by helping them create a Fair Trade-certified coffee-selling cooperative. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF SILK by Richard Sobol
Released: Sept. 25, 2012

"A pleasingly engaging look at the subject. (silk facts, glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-10)"
Crisp, bright photographs and a simple, personal narrative create a remarkably informative look at the process of silk production in a Thai village. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2011

"Part of Sobol's Traveling Photographer series, this useful introduction to a famous tourist destination has unexpected child appeal. (facts, glossary, unlabeled world map) (Nonfiction. 8-11) "
A photographer explores the ancient Cambodian temple and modern Siem Reap looking for odd angles, surprises and reflections of today's world in the ancient carvings. Read full book review >
THE LIFE OF RICE by Richard Sobol
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Many rice farmers all over Thailand still plant and harvest by hand, with the help of family members and such animals as water buffalo and elephants. For this second in the Traveling Photographer series, Sobol goes from Uganda (Breakfast in the Rainforest, 2008) to Thailand to document the life cycle of rice in both low- and high-tech agriculture. He presents colorful, eye-catching photographs to accompany his narrative of how rice is grown, harvested, used and eaten and also provides glimpses into Thai culture, especially the farmers for whom "rice is life"; rice is such an important part of Thai culture that there are several national holidays dedicated to the crop. (A listing of the holidays and their descriptions is included in the back, along with a glossary, rice facts and the names of some popular Thai rice dishes.) The end pages show a simple, unlabeled global map with Thailand highlighted, while the first page features a slightly more detailed map of Thailand and its surrounding areas. Using rice as a lens, this book delivers an engaging snapshot of Thailand and its people. (Nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Wildlife photographer Sobol treks into Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to photograph critically endangered mountain gorillas. A map sets the stage and Sobol's first-person narrative makes clear the challenges facing those who would see this reclusive species. Only about 650 mountain gorillas are alive today, preserved in wilderness parks on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is a hefty fee for visitor permits; an hour with a gorilla family supports many of the other activities of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Sobol's photographs give readers an idea of the land and people he encounters on the bumpy eight-hour ride on mountain roads to the village near the park, and suggest his struggles through the forest. But the photo-album centerpiece of this chronicle is worth his effort: Mothers, children and impressive, full-grown silverback males stare out through the vegetation at the reader. Attractive design using a generic African pattern enhances the presentation. First in a planned Traveling Photographer series, this will delight armchair explorers and animal lovers. (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
CONSTRUCTION ZONE by Cheryl Willis Hudson
Released: June 1, 2006

With obvious reverence for his project, Sobol's photographs chaperone the young reader through a three-year construction project. The color images are varied in perspective, but each captures the action. "The construction zone," Hudson points out, "is like a giant puzzle," and together author and photographer, piece by piece, unveil the whole. Each page contains the definition of one or more emboldened words from the text providing for succinct, but copious information. The journey spans architectural plans, excavation, rebar and concrete to insulation and fixtures. Hudson lingers on every person involved, with obvious respect for those who hang from scaffolds or painstakingly lay wire. The finished product, in all its gleaming glory, is an elegantly curved and oddly angled Frank Gehry creation. Advanced for a toddler, but this read will be fascinating for the burgeoning builder. Only the penultimate photograph—of the finished structure—lacks the compositional beauty of the rest, but in every other respect this intriguing project gives an amazingly broad overview of the entire building process. (Nonfiction. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2004

Young readers may never complain about feeding or cleaning up after the dog again once they've met Wan Pen, a four-year-old pet/sibling/working animal belonging to a family in a Thai village. In Tha Klang, domesticated elephants consume about 400 pounds of food and bathtubs of water daily, while wandering freely (when they're not putting on shows for tourists) over roads of "dirt and gravel mixed together with years and years of mashed elephant droppings." In big, sharp, colorful scenes, photojournalist Sobol depicts Wan Pen and her pachyderm compatriots carrying, being tended by, even playing soccer with, a small corps of cheerful local children in well-kept rural settings. Sobol tucks several Thai words into his engaging narrative, and closes with a page of random elephant facts. He isn't the first to visit a village where people and elephants cohabit, but he offers a closer, more intimate portrait than readers will find in Jeremy C. Schmidt's In the Village of the Elephants (1994), or Roland Smith's In the Forest with Elephants (1998). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
ADELINA’S WHALES by Richard Sobol
Released: June 1, 2003

Photojournalist Sobol contrasts ten-year-old Adelina Mayoral's life in a Mexican fishing village with that of the gray whales that spend three months in the water just offshore. Adelina's grandfather was among the first to realize the whales were friendly—he recounts the day a whale bumped his boat, over and over, until he realized it was simply curious, not aggressive. Now visitors come to see and even touch the whales. Scientists study them. (An introduction says that the planned development of a saltworks would have endangered the whales' habitat, but that an international protest initiated by Mexican environmental groups saved them.) The tone of the text describes both the shack where Adelina lives and the richness of her life with her family and the whales, without lapsing into sentimentality. Beautifully composed photos complete the text. Accessible on many levels, it gives a personal face to conservation. (Nonfiction. 4-10)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1995

Sobol provides a fine overview of the sorry state of wildlife in Africa today, and the immense amount of work that needs to be done to save even a fraction of what once was. Pity the poor elephant—colossal beasts of the forest, hill and plain—reduced to piano keys and chess pieces. But in Uganda's Ruwenzori National Park, the efforts of Peter and Wilhelm Moeller and countless others has resulted in the elephant's making a comeback. Sobol's crackerjack full-color photographs add a measure of authority to the book. In this package, hope, purpose and inspiration are neatly rolled into one. (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

``Politics ought to be fun—after baseball it's our next favorite pastime,'' says Texas Gov. Ann Richards, the woman who swears she learned about politics from running a household. A three-minute walk with photographer Sobol (Seal Journey, 1993) becomes a half-hour ordeal because of the number of people who believe Richards when she says ``a week when I'm trapped in this office isn't real''—and stop to talk. Sobol captures her well with his prose. When a TV camera rolls, ``as if waking from a nap her head lifts up, her eyes sparkle like exploding fireworks, and her smile grows...wide like a fresh-cut slice of watermelon.'' But he knows when to sit back and just let Richards do what she does best- -talk. Why is her hair white? ``Have you met my children?'' How does she maintain weight? ``I buy larger sizes.'' No book studded with the witticisms of Richards could fail to entertain. This one is, and doesn't. (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
SEAL JOURNEY by Richard Sobol
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Each year, thousands of harp seals gather on the ice packs of eastern Canada to give birth; Richard Sobol and his eight-year-old son Jonah traveled to one seal colony, 100 miles north of Prince Edward Island, to record the event. In the harsh frozen environment, where spring temperatures are below zero, the cycle of giving birth, nursing, and mating occurs in just two weeks—during which the furry, white, 20-pound babies must gain 60 pounds and learn to swim in order to survive. Vivid color photos complement the text: a startled, sticky, wet pup, minutes after birth, his coat still yellow; a roly-poly seal getting a first swim lesson; Jonah, wrapped to his eyeballs, sitting on the ice floe to hug a pup. Good detail, a strong conservation plea, and an appealing adventure. List of seal facts. (Nonfiction. 10-12) Read full book review >