Children's Literature Bookshelf

“Grand Canyon,” by Jason Chin. Roaring Book Press, New York, 56 pages, Grades 2-4.

“Grand Canyon,” by Jason Chin.
Roaring Book Press, New York, 56 pages, Grades 2-4.

Arizona has some of the most diverse geology of any state in the country. The state has many mountains, forests, deserts and several large lakes. The crown jewel of Arizona is the Grand Canyon. This spectacular wonder of nature has been carved by the Colorado River over thousands of years. It is 277 miles long and more than a mile deep in some parts.

While it borders several Indian reservations, the Grand Canyon is part of the United States Parks System. An amazing array of wildlife and fauna can be found in the Grand Canyon. Jason Chin has created a marvelous book about this enchanting miracle of nature. The name of this book is “Grand Canyon.”

As the story begins, we see a mountain lion stalking the upper regions of the Grand Canyon. It is night, and the painting evokes a feeling of awe and some fear. The mountain lion is obviously on the hunt and the walls of the canyon are washed in an eerie light. Readers will not know whether to be awed by the beauty of the canyon walls at night or to try to run for cover to escape the mountain lion.

Next, we see a child and her father camping in the Inner Gorge, the lowest section of the Grand Canyon. The girl touches the icy cold water of the stream and notices the footprints of animals such as raccoons and mule deer on the river bank.

As the father and daughter begin hiking up the Canyon, they see that the small stream has joined the mighty Colorado River. As they go higher on the journey, they see the trees and plant life start to change. Trees begin growing in the cracks in the cliffs caused by centuries of erosion. As they gaze about, bighorn mountain sheep silently follow their movement.

Gliding overhead is the rare California condor. Once nearly extinct, the California condor, with its nine-foot wingspan and 23-pound body, is scavenging for food over the Canyon. As they trek upward toward the top of the slope, fossils can be seen in the exposed rock layers of the canyon walls. These fossils were formed thousands of years ago as fish and animals died and became encased in rock.

Now at the top of the Grand Canyon, the girl and her father look back on the majesty of this wonder of the natural world. Having ascended to the highest part of the Grand Canyon, they are surrounded by Ponderosa Pines. As night begins to fall the colors again change. It will soon be sunset and the coyotes and mountain lions will again come from their dens to hunt.

Jason Chin has written a masterful account of the Grand Canyon. It is highly informative and gives an outstanding account of the animal and plant life of this spectacular setting. In addition, he has any number of graphs and maps at the end of the book that give readers valuable information about the Grand Canyon.

In each of three primary ecosystems of the Grand Canyon, Chin includes the important animal and bird species in sidebars next to the text. This book is absolutely fun to read. I hope you take the time to go to the library and check out this title. Share it with the younger members of your family and you will have some very pleasurable moments together. If you are lucky enough to take these children to the Grand Canyon you will already know some of its treasures. Enjoy!

Terrence Nollen




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