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Island: A Story of the Galápagos Hardcover – September 18, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596437162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596437166
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.3 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jason Chin is the author of the award-winning REDWOODS; CORAL REEFS, nominated for a Texas Bluebonnet Award; and ISLAND: A STORY OF THE GALÁPAGOS, winner of the 2013 Gryphon Award, named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews, and named a Fanfare title by The Horn Book. His newest book GRAVITY, has received four starred reviews. Jason grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. He studied illustration at Syracuse University and started his career while working at a children's bookstore in New York City. He now lives with his wife Deirdre Gill and their children in Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JenT on November 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jason Chin has done an excellent job with this book. If you or your child likes nature or science, this is a must have!! Jason Chin won the Giverny Award for his book Redwood, so when I saw this one was available at the library- I had to read it to my 6 year old. Afterwards, she had so many questions which turned into over an hour long conversation about island biogeography and evolution; hence, it was a must have for our personal library. She loved it and I've purchased a second one for my niece. We have also read Coral Reefs but this one by far is my favorite! It explains how the first island formed, organisms which migrated there and how they changed, and also how islands die. I'm really into science and love children books (we've read all of the Giverny Award books-- which is specifically for children's science books-- highly recommend many of those too: [...] ) and this book is by far in the top 3 science books for children that I have ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amy March on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The air is still and the sea is calm, but beneath the water something is stirring."

Six million years ago and over 600 miles away from the closest continent, a new island is about to be born. From birth to death, the life story of an island and its evolution is recounted in a five part biographical format. Plant and animal life on the island is nonexistent for many years, until a seed falls from a tree on a neighboring island and makes its way to the new island. Mangrove trees begin to grow, and soon seabirds and marine iguanas from older islands begin to make the new island their home. In time, sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, seagulls, penguins, frigate birds, pelicans, sea lions, tortoises, finches, snails, and cormorants join the first plant and animal settlers. As the island changes over time, plant and animal life evolve and adapt to the different environmental changes. Eventually the island sinks below the blue waves forever. Through the years, new islands have emerged and the endemic plant and animal descendants of the island now exist on these other islands. Author and artist, Jason Chin's beautiful paintings and insightful text journal the Galapagos Islands' history, taking the reader on a fascinating fact filled island safari. Island A Story of he Galapagos Islands is an exceptional reading journey through nature and time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debnance at Readerbuzz on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Redwoods was my introduction to the wonderful Jason Chin a couple of years back, but it was a bit too fiction-y for the other Cybils panelists back then. Times have changed, though, and we readers are more open to a whisk here and there of fiction elements in our nonfiction. And (at least I think) it makes for a better world.

So then Island. Let's look at Island. Chin, panel by panel, takes us through the birth, growth, and eventually disappearance of an island in the Galápagos. We see the island and its inhabitants change, over years and years, in little ways that, as time passes, become big and helpful modifications. Chin pulls his characters, all the creatures who begin to populate the island, right to the center of his drawings, posing for us, where we can look closely at all the curious developments, and slowly, reading along, we are pulled into the story of this intriguing spot in the world. Perhaps for the first time, like the first people who visited the islands, we see the inevitability of slow evolution and change in our world. Beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Fulton on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
We're a homeschooling family studying South America this month, we checked this out from the library and yesterday, enjoyed this beautiful book together. My kids really enjoyed it and learned so much, even my little 4 year old was loving it. Beautiful theory of the history of the Galapagos Islands, how they formed, and how the animals came to live there and evolved to become endemic species (species that exist nowhere else in the world). It was enjoyable for us on so many levels, we just finished a Unit on Australia and it was wonderful to be provided with this definition of these species in both Galapagos and Australia that are found no where else. We also did a unit on Anrcheology and went into evolution and Charles Darwin earlier this year and it was nice to review and learn about him again.
This book teaches so much and has such beautiful and plentiful illustrations that children want to keep listening, and you'll be looking forward to reading it again. Adding it to my pinterest list of books I Love, and would like to buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A Story of the Galapagos
by Jason Chin

This nonfiction narrative account of the formation of an island is not only full of fascinating facts, but is also a work of art. The extraordinary description of the plants and wildlife are portrayed in words and beautiful pictures. The detailed time line of events paints a picture in the reader's mind of how the Galapagos Islands came to be, based on scientific research and some imagination. If you are interested in geography, history, biology, or geology, this is the book for you!

School curriculum connections include: plant and animal life; timelines (history); landforms; adaptations; habitats; and environmental changes.
The educational possibilities are endless!
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