Combining geology, biology, and history, this is a story spanning six million years. A fictional Galápagos island makes its first appearance as a volcanic mountain erupting above sea level. After more than a million years, the eruptions dwindle. The island supports many plants and animals, and some develop into unique species. Finally, the island slowly shrinks and sinks beneath the water. In a brief, highly visual epilogue, Darwin (identified only in the appended historical notes) visits the Galápagos Islands in 1835. Back matter includes three separate pages of information (“Charles Darwin and the Galápagos,” “The Galápagos Islands,” and “Endemic Species of the Galápagos”) but no source bibliography. Handsome full-page paintings, horizontal scenes, and many panels of small, square pictures illustrate the gradual changes in island life and in the animals physical features (finches’ beaks, tortoises’ shells) that enable them to survive. While the use of large-print sentences and small, sequential pictures is wonderfully helpful in illustrating concepts such as the island’s changing size and shape, the book’s combination of a relatively short text and a large, complex subject leaves some points unexplained or open to misinterpretation. Still, this is an ambitious introduction with noteworthy illustrations of land and animals in motion. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan
"Handsome and succinct..."--The Wall Street Journal
Chin’s remarkable introduction to the Galápagos is not just a story. It’s a biography. It begins with an island’s “birth” six million years ago. “A volcano has been growing under the ocean for millions of years,” Chin writes. “With this eruption it rises above the water for the first time, and a new island is born.” In full-page watercolor paintings and small-size panel illustrations, Chin shows how the tremendous explosion leaves a mass of lava, which hardens and grows into an island. Any reader who has ever made a homemade “volcano” out of baking soda will be hooked.
Writing scientific narrative nonfiction for young children is challenge enough, but creating engaging picture books for older children about the natural world isn’t easy either. How to pull in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” reader? Credit to Jason Chin, who succeeded at both in “Coral Reefs” (2011) and “Redwoods” (2009). He does so again in his latest, “Island: A Story of the Galápagos.”
Chin, as author-illustrator, melds geology with evolution, showing how the land and its inhabitants interact and shape one another in a natural-world interplay. We see how a few intrepid immigrant animals arrive, colonize and transform themselves to accommodate the particular features of their new home. The island grows and changes too as new eruptions lead to the appearance of other nearby islands, while eruptions on the original island grow infrequent, and then cease.
“…a remarkable work and an asset for educators…”--Publishers Weekly, starred
“Chin’s gorgeous illustrations include sweeping double-page spreads of the island and its inhabitants…”--Horn Book Magazine, starred
"Another superb contribution to scientific literature by Chin.”--Kirkus, starred
"...this fine introduction to [the Galápagos] will surely stimulate readers’ interest.”--School Library Journal, starred
"The art is masterful in its combination of realism and artistic flow; the layout complements sweeping full-page, full-bleed landscapes with carefully controlled panel sequences that provide additional focus on a process or creature, so the evolution of larger finches’ beaks, for instance, is clearly demonstrated and explained." -- BCCB, starred review