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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grand Canyon, by Jason Chin. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2017. $27.99 ages 8 and up

"As you approach the rim of the canyon, the climate becomes cooler and more moist. Vegetation on the sloping Toroweap Formation is more dense than below. Before exiting the canyon, however, there is one more layer to scale: the Kaibab Limestone. The Kaibab cliffs are full of marine fossils that tell us about life here 270 million years ago ... "

It's a father and daughter excursion that leads us to observe the many wonders of the Grand Canyon. Luckily, we have a rocking chair observation station and will not actually feel the rigors of the challenging trek from the South Kaibab Trail up, up, up to the South Rim.

As they go, we have a great view of the geological landscape that has so inspired and intrigued visitors. By reading the accessible text and spending time pondering the incredibly detailed images, we learn a great deal about the creation of this mesmerizing place. From its basement rocks which are as much as 1.84 billion years old to the Ponderosa pine forest above the rim, Jason Chin affords us a most interesting lesson in geology and the passing of time. An illustrated image of the more than twelve rock layers found there is provided near the beginning of our trek, and acts as a guide and a reference as we move up the canyon.

The science lesson here is so beautifully constructed, and most enjoyable for his audience. He fills the borders with the flora and fauna of each habitat, the rock formations, the development of the layers, the fossils found in the various layers, the weathering and erosion, and the climates of each. It is a complex story made easier to comprehend through this stellar presentation. Cutouts at various points along the way peek through and give the child a chance to take a step back in time and experience first-hand the many changes the canyon itself has undergone.

Back matter runs to six pages and expands our knowledge for how the canyon was actually carved through eons. A short discussion of our journey, a look at the human history of this remarkable place, the ecological communities that are prominent in the canyon itself, its geology, formation, the Colorado River and the mystery of its formation are each briefly discussed. He adds a note from himself and then one about his illustrations before providing an extensive list of resources for further study. The man did his research. His art reflects his personal visit. A cross section of the canyon and a glorious four page foldout to give a panoramic view will hold readers in awe of its 'grand'eur.

Jason's author's note voices a wish for his readers:

"This book is my tribute to the canyon and also to the power of the imagination. After all, it's imagination that makes both science and art possible. I hope that this book captures my readers' imaginations, just as Grand Canyon has captured mine."

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