Monday, July 23, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

Somehow I missed reviewing this one when it first came out, but better late than never! This was one of my school booktalking titles this spring and I used it as part of my "older kids should read picture books" spiel.

Me: "How many of you like to read picture books?"
Kids: after third grade very few raised their hands )-:
Me: "How many of you think picture books are for little kids?"
Kids: chorus of agreement, degree of sarcasm depending on age of children.
Me: "Well, if you don't pick up picture books you are missing out. First on some really cool books, but secondly on a lot of awesome nonfiction because many nonfiction books look like picture books"
I then turn the pages of the book and talk about reading nonfiction and finding interesting books to a chorus of ohs and ahs as the kids watch the pictures unfold.

So, like his earlier work, Redwoods, Coral Reefs starts with a kid in a library. It's a pretty stern looking reference library too. But as she opens the pages and starts reading about coral reefs, the images shift until she's in the coral reef, watching the teeming life she's reading about. Finally, she slooshes her way out of the library to share the book with her friends.

Additional information at the back explains more about coral reefs and the threats facing them. An author's note includes websites and further reading and the endpapers are decorated with labeled sketches of a variety of reef inhabitants.

This isn't really a read-aloud work, although children of all ages will enjoy the stunning illustrations that shift from page to page, plunging the reader (both of the book and in the book) deeper and deeper into the story. The text is arranged in thick chunks, so unless you have a very non-wiggly child this book is best kept for one-on-one examination or for an older child to pore over.

Verdict: A must for your library, Chin's unique style and gorgeous artwork will take readers of all ages into a fascinating world under the ocean. Plus, it makes a great argument for getting older kids to read picture books!

ISBN: 9781596435636; Published October 2011 by Roaring Brook Press; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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