Sunday, January 31, 2010



Written and illustrated by: Jason Chin
Recommended Ages: 6-10

This picture book is a clever blend of facts and fantasy. The facts are in the very readable text, where we learn a lot about those most magical of trees--the redwoods. The fantasy comes in the form of imaginative illustrations that guide us throughout the 32 page book.

While waiting for a train, a young boy picks up a copy of a book called Redwoods. As the boy starts to read about the trees, the background changes to fit the story. For instance, as he learns that the ancestors of the redwoods lived during the Jurassic period, dinosaurs appear outside the train window. Or when he reads that a tree can live more more than 2,000 years, he finds himself seated between two men from the Roman Empire. It's an imaginative and fun way to learn about the endangered redwood tree.

The watercolor illustrations do an amazing job of highlighting the facts. Perspective is shown when the boy reads that researchers discovered a tree in 2006 that was 379.1 feet tall. Turn the page and you read that that's "six stories taller than the Statue of Liberty." And the picture shows the Statue of Liberty against the backdrop of a redwood tree.

There's a lot contained in these pages. For example, here are some interesting facts about redwoods:

"When a redwood is injured, the tree will often sprout new trunks that look like miniature versions of the tree itself."

"...redwoods have an ingenious way of collecting water: They make their own rain! When the fog rolls in, it condenses on the redwood's needles, and whatever moisture isn't absorbed then falls to the ground to be soaked up by the tree's roots."

"Some animals, like red tree voles, live their whole lives in the treetops and never see the ground."

Elementary-aged kids will enjoy reading Redwoods. Nature and non-fiction buffs will automatically be drawn to this book. But I also think that reluctant readers will find themselves pulled in because it's just so interesting. The book succeeds by being both beautifully drawn and chock full of facts. If I were a first through fourth grade teacher, I'd want to make sure my classroom contained a copy of Redwoods.

BookNosher Activities: You might want to check out some of these websites on redwoods:

Save The Redwoods League: Lots of information about the endangered redwood. Includes a kids' pledge to help save them.

On the Redwood National Parks website, there's a section on how to become a Junior Ranger. Perfect for the budding naturalist.


Mama Librarian said...

I love the way the pictures tell a whole different story than the words. I was hoping this one might be noticed by the Caldecott committee... oh, well! Thanks for your review!

Robin Gaphni said...

I, also, would have liked to see it recognized by the Caldecott committee. The illustrations were clever and well done.