Coral Reefs Hardcover – Oct 25 2011
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“Information and fantasy collaborate in this imaginative introduction to coral reefs.” ―BCCB
“Chin offers a colorful and inventive introduction to coral reefs.” ―School Library Journal
“Chin, who pioneered this hybrid form of straightforward nonfiction text and fanciful pictures with Redwoods (2009), offers another a statement about the power of reading for an imaginative child with this appealing introduction to a complex world.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Chin's detailed illustrations capture the dappled light of shallow water and the bright tropical colors and patterns in the featured flora and fauna…. Readers shouldn't skip the information at the back, which explains the serious problem of coral bleaching due to global warming.” ―Horn Book Magazine
“Chin's latest book offers a straightforward text discussing coral reefs, while the well-composed illustrations create an imaginative narrative running in parallel.” ―Booklist
About the Author
Jason Chin is the author and artist of the award-winning book Redwoods, which Kirkus Reviews called, "An inventive eye-opening adventure." His work also includes illustrations for Simon Winchester's The Day the World Exploded. He and his wife Deirdre, also an artist, live in Vermont.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Any kid who is interested in Coral Reefs would love this book.
My favorite part of the book was when they discussed the food chain.
This book is appropriate for young readers ages 5-7.
Review by Young Mensan Katie, age 6
A girl stands in a library room and removes a book from a shelf entitled "Coral Reefs". As she reads we see the text below each image. The book explains how reefs are formed, who lives in them, and what their future may be. As we read along we see the girl's library suddenly flooded. New York City is now underwater and the girl observes firsthand the lagoons, the feeding grounds, and the food chain at work. By the end she stands on the library steps utterly wet, and some other kids get to read the book world beneath the sea for themselves. The back of the book features an author's note on the threats the coral reefs now face as well as additional facts and a small bibliography of useful books and websites.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of New York Public Library (better known to the bulk of the world as "the library with the big stone lions out front") has appeared in various works of children's literature for years. From a significant appearance on the dedication page of James Daugherty's "Andy and the Lion" to the "The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries" (by former NYPL employee Julie Cummins, no less) to "Hilary and the Lions" by Frank Desaix, there is no end to the number of titles that have displayed it in some way. Of course, only a few of those books actually give glimpses of the inside of the library itself. This book not only glimpses the inside, it fills it with saltwater. I expect a lot of kids are going to find our rooms a bit disappointing after they go on the oceanic journey of "Coral Reefs" first.
Naturally Chin spoke about this book in my library not that long ago to two classes of second and third graders. Lest you believe kids of that age range cannot take interest in anything that doesn't involve princesses or "Star Wars" characters, allow me to say that the children who saw the man speak took in, processed, and retained the information here. After reading the book and explaining how he wrote it he asked the kids what it is that parrotfish eat. When he called on a girl with her hand in the air she said, with no hesitation, "Polyps." I exchanged glances with the grown-ups seated around me. Heck, I couldn't have told him that and I'd been listening the whole time. Kids: 1. Grown-up librarians: Zip Zero Zilch. Now I should note that the text in this book is very straightforward. The girl's journey doesn't enter into it. Chin is telling you about coral reefs straight on without prettying it up or doing much more than giving you the facts of the matter. Be aware.
When a kid gets an assignment in school to do a report on coral reefs, they're going to go to their local library looking for one of those perfectly nice but relatively dull books with lots of information and the occasional photograph of an octopus or a grouper. Chin's idea to couple his facts with a kid exploring them firsthand was one he used to great effect in the previous book "Redwoods". Like this book, that one showed a kid reading a book in a New York City (in that case, on a subway), emerging from the station into a world of enormous trees. Here our heroine is in NYPL's Rose Reading Room (meticulously and accurately rendered) when she is swept into an underwater world. For the images Chin uses the most delicate of watercolors. He's a master of them too. It can be no easy task to show what the underside of the ocean looking up might be, or to pinpoint what shadowed underwater light looks like. From the endpapers of the fishies to the animals you spot around the reef, Chin has taken his time with this book to make it absolutely marvelous. I think it took me several readings before I realized that like the squirrel companion in "Redwoods", here we have a crab companion for our heroine who crops up in various pictures from time to time.
I once gave a tour of the Rose Reading Room (the place where everything in this book starts) to a group of kids familiar with this book. I led the kids to the place where the book occurs so that they could stand there themselves. I held up the images, drawing the attention of children and tourists alike. If there is a flaw in the book it's that it shows the girl getting this very same book out of the Reading Room to read. That is untrue. To read this book you will have to go three floors down and enter the Children's Center. There you will find a copy ready and waiting for you. A copy that will tell you everything you ever wanted or needed to know about the vast, amazing, entrancing world of coral reefs and the creatures that make it their home. Gorgeous work. Great facts. A singular title.
For ages 5 and up.
For children reading by themselves, the amount of text, more complex sentences and more challenging vocabulary are likely best suited for middle grade readers. For example: "As the coral grows, it creates many cracks and crevices in the reef that make perfect hiding places for small fish." For reading aloud, however, I think it could be enjoyed by all ages: the illustrations show small fish hiding in cracks and crevices. There's so much to look at, you could even skip most of the text and just talk about what's going in the illustrations.
(Note: I received a free advance reading copy of this book from the publisher at an American Library Association Annual Conference. I was not required to write a positive review. Thank you, Roaring Brook Press!)