Beautiful but, sadly, not as immersive as Chin’s fans may hope.



Starting from their campsite at the bottom of the 1,000-foot-deep Inner Gorge, an Asian-American child and her dad traverse three separate habitats until they arrive at the South Rim, 22 miles later.

Descriptions of the landscape, plants, and animals are provided alongside a running commentary of the geologic history of the canyon’s formation. Gorgeously detailed artwork captures this unique ecological niche’s amazing diversity of life. The borders framing most pages are filled with illustrations depicting the rock strata, flora, and fauna associated with the different elevations of the canyon. Small, shaped die-cut windows highlight fossilized trilobites, shells, and footprints and provide gateways to imaginative flashbacks to the canyon’s past, while a gatefold reveals a magnificent panoramic view of the truly grand canyon at sunset. In approaching his subject, Chin uses the relatively dry factual approach he employed in Island (2012) rather than the wonderfully successful fusion of fact and imagination he introduced in Redwoods (2009) and Coral Reefs (2011). Inexplicably, a guidebook to the Grand Canyon (this very book?) remains in the girl’s backpack—in effect relegating the child’s role to observer rather than engaged participant save for a few imaginary trips to the past. Despite the wealth of maps provided, there isn’t one clearly delineating the journey undertaken by father and daughter. Appended are comprehensive background notes, bibliography, and further reading. The in-depth information is easily accessible to curious readers of any age.

Beautiful but, sadly, not as immersive as Chin’s fans may hope. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-950-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...


From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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