Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin is a narrative account of “the geological and biological processes that led to the Galápagos Islands we know today” (from the author’s note). The story starts with the “birth” of the islands some six million years ago, the geologic processes involved in the formation of the island, and the gradual coming to the island of various forms of animal and plant life. The story is divided into sections marked by ages and spans of time denoted by millions-of-years-ago. The story is one of both geologic change and microevolution, as species come to the island and adapt to the climate and conditions there. The illustrations are lovely and range from full-page, portrait-like landscapes of the island and ocean to panels of small squares that offer support to what the text details about the changes in the animals, etc. The last section of the book is marked as the epilogue and denotes the condition of the islands (the original island having disappeared below the surface of the ocean) in 1835 when Charles Darwin arrived aboard the H.M.S. Beagle. Additional material at the end of the story provide information about Darwin and natural selection, more about how the islands were formed (though nothing specific about the missing information I mentioned above), and species endemic to Galapágos.
A great strength of this book is the illustrations that support and enchance the text very well. One weakness is the lack of clarity created by the constant present-tense text, despite the fact that the story is taking place from six million years ago to almost two hundred years ago. This made it somewhat hard for me to follow the first time I read it. Also, the story goes from being about one island to abruptly being about a string of fifteen islands, without much explanation as to how that happened in the intervening million or so years. Although the text is a little confusing, the overall scope of the story, the style and tone, and the supportive illustrations make it a good narrative nonfiction picture book about a topic about which I imagine there isn’t much for elementary-aged students. This is the second book I’ve read by Jason Chin (the first one I reviewed here), and he is most definitely an author to watch for if you’re looking for informational picture books. (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)
Links and reviews elsewhere:
- Jason Chin’s website
- Interview with the author at School Library Journal
- Review at Kid Lit Frenzy (lots of pictures of the illustrations in this one)
Island has been nominated for a Cybils award in the nonfiction picture category. I am linking up my review at Wendie’s Wanderings, this week’s host of Nonfiction Monday.