Review of Grand Canyon

chin_grand canyonstar2 Grand Canyon
by Jason Chin; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Porter/Roaring Brook    56 pp.
2/17    978-1-59643-950-4    $19.99    g

Vacationing in Grand Canyon provides a father and daughter — and readers — numerous opportunities to explore this National Park’s geology and ecology. Travel guide–like narration (“After climbing out of the Inner Gorge, you’ll find yourself on a broad, sun-baked slope”) presents accurate scientific information, while the illustrations, laid out like photos from a camping trip, depict the pair’s adventures hiking from the bottom of the canyon to the top. Chin’s detailed, scenic watercolors portray actual sites (he takes a few artistic liberties, carefully documented in an author’s note). As the two explore the rocks, fossils, and landforms along the trail, selected objects are cleverly featured through subtle die-cuts. Turn the page, and the girl is transported back in time to the ancient geologic environments in which the rocks were formed, or the fossilized animals lived. In some cases, the shifts are to marine environments, a stunning juxtaposition with the desert landscapes of the present. This representation captures the essence of field geology: artifacts of the earth are indeed conduits to the past, brought to life through scientific imagination. The perimeters of some pages are filled with delicate sketches and diagrams in muted colors reminiscent of the dry rock landscape. They go into great detail on how rocks and fossils form, the plant and animal species found in the various ecological niches present in the canyon, and the very formation of the canyon itself. Near the end of the book, an immersive four-page foldout brings readers to the canyon rim, to marvel at “the grandest canyon on Earth.” The final pages of the book provide even more scientific information.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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