Chin, J. (2009). Redwoods. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Appetizer: A young boy discovers a Copy of Redwoods (complete with him on the cover) while waiting in the subway stop. As he begins to read the information the book contains about Redwood trees, during his trip, a bit of imagination and the information within the book begins to transform the world around the boy.
The text itself is straightforward information about Redwood trees. While, some of the facts are interesting, they could easily be words written in a boring, big textbook or on a research notecard written by a fourth grade. No, what makes this book awesome are the illustrations. As the boy reads, the subject matter comes alive. When he learns that a tree can live over 2,000 years and some sprouted during the Roman Empire, a roman soldier and senator sit on either side of the reading boy. When the boy leaves the underground subway system he goes upstairs to discover he's in a Redwood forest. As the boy reads more facts about redwoods, he continues to explore the forest.
The text did an awesome job of sharing about redwoods and showing their role in their habitat (teachers will love to force kids to construct food webs based off of the information).
The story as a whole reminded me of the Magic School Bus series, but with more beautifully executed illustrations (and only one kid instead of a bus full).
This story show the power of a reader's imagination and also does an excellent job of showing the scope and size of a Redwood forest. I also liked that the boy featured throughout the story was of Asian descent (mmmmm, racial representation. Tastes good.).
The book also shares the fact that the redwoods are endangered in the author's note. No message left unshared!
"The coast redwoods are among the oldest trees in the world. Their ancestors lived about 165 million years ago, during the Jurassic period."
"They are the tallest living things on the planet. Redwoods regularly grow to be more than 200 feet tall."
"If you see a ring of redwoods in the forest, they probably sprouted from the same stump."
"It takes a long time for water to travel all the way from the roots to the top of a redwood, and the fog helps the trees by preventing them from losing moisture to evaporation."
To Go with the Meal:
The text of this story can be used to show students some of the essential information they should include when writing a science report.
In similar fashion to this book's structure, students' could bring their own research papers alive by including illustrations with their reports that not only bring alive the subject matter, but include themselves on the adventure.
This book shows literacy both as a way to learn new facts and skills, as an imaginative process, and shows information and books as things that should be shared.
Tasty Rating: !!!!