Reviews for Redwoods

Booklist Reviews 2009 April #1
"*Starred Review* The first book Chin has written as well as illustrated is a real eye-opener. Before the title page, the first illustration shows a boy finding a book called Redwoods while waiting for his subway train. Remarkably, the boy pictured on the cover looks like him, though on the title page, a girl in an orange sweater walks through the trees. The text is straightforward nonfiction: an informative guide to redwood trees. Meanwhile, the illustrations create an imaginative drama that highlights the facts. When he is reading that some trees alive today sprouted during Roman times, the boy is shown sharing a seat with a Roman Legionnaire and a citizen wearing a toga. When he leaves the subway, he emerges into a stand of redwoods, which he thoroughly explores from forest floor to canopy. A height comparison of trees and skyscrapers brings him back to the city, where he leaves the book on a park bench. The illustrations conclude with theĀ girl in an orange sweater picking up the book and beginning her own adventure. The text clearly and succinctly presents information, which is effectively illustrated in the colorful paintings. Even better, the narrative element in the artwork soars, promising to engage children imaginatively as well as intellectually."

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
Here's a plot straight out of a Barbara Lehman picture book. A young boy waiting for the subway finds an abandoned book next to him. He boards the train, and as he reads about redwood trees and learns just how old they are, he becomes so engrossed that he doesn't notice either the dinosaurs out the window or the Romans sitting next to him. When he exits the subway, he finds himself in the middle of a redwood forest, learning all manner of things about them, culminating with their staggering height ("taller than a thirty-story skyscraper"). Finally, the urban landscape breaks through his reverie and, sitting on a park bench, he realizes he is late for something and dashes off, leaving the book behind for the approaching girl who picks it up and starts reading. Chin's watercolor illustrations capture both the majesty of the redwoods and the young boy's inquisitive personality, and while the idea of a storybook so vivid that it comes to life is not new, what sets this one apart is that Chin has paired his fantastical visual narrative with a straightforward nonfiction text. Thus we are privy both to what the boy is reading and to the effect that it has on his imagination. The book is, therefore, a contagious celebration of the relationship between information and imagination, the pure joy of learning. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 February #2
Chin introduces the world of old-growth redwood forests to young readers in this effective mix of fiction and nonfiction. Finding his own image on the cover of an abandoned book--this book, with metaliterary self-reference--an Asian-American boy scans it and is seamlessly swept into a stunning new watercolor world that juxtaposes a straightforward nonfiction text against fantastical images. A Roman Centurion and a toga-clad citizen flank him on the subway as he reads that redwoods "can live for more than 2,000 years." Carrying the book as he walks through the forest, he learns about its growth patterns and its properties. He experiences the redwood's ability to generate under-the-canopy rain and races ahead of a blaze while he reads about its ability to survive fire. The adventure intensifies when he springs into a climber's harness, horizontal sequential panels allowing him to view the redwood's inhabitants level by level. Rappelling down, he alights in a city park, where he leaves the book for another child to find. An inventive, eye-opening adventure. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 March #2

Playing with the notion of just how immersive a book can be, illustrator Chin (The Day the World Exploded) makes his authorial debut with a clever exploration of coast redwoods. The framing story opens with a boy finding a copy of Redwoods on a subway station bench (he's even on the cover). He delves in, and facts about the ancient trees spring to life around him: as he reads in a subway car that "there are trees alive today that first sprouted during the Roman Empire," he is flanked by two figures from that era, driving home the point. Emerging from the station to find himself in the middle of a redwood forest, his adventures mirror what he's learning--standing in a redwood-made rain shower and glimpsing the Statue of Liberty in the midst of the forest (the tallest redwood is six stories taller). The straightforward narrative is given enormous energy by the inventive format and realistic watercolor illustrations--their soft edges and muted hues suit the mist-shrouded giants. Chin adeptly captures the singular and spectacular nature of redwoods in this smartly layered book. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May

Gr 1-4--This remarkable picture book delivers a mix of fantasy and fiction through beautifully detailed watercolors. Waiting on a subway platform alone, a boy finds a book about redwood trees and becomes captivated while reading it on the train. As he learns that there are trees alive today that first sprouted during the Roman Empire, readers notice two passengers seated beside him from that period. When he comes out of the station, he finds himself deep in a redwood forest, where, clad in climber's gear and a harness, he launches a rope, climbs a tree, discovers wildlife in the branches, and experiences the many wonders similar to a professional researcher. Colorful panels focus on his observations. Chin superbly captures the boy's varied expressions throughout his adventure. Perspective is artfully used to show the immensity of the trees as he rappels back down into the city with images of landmarks and skyscrapers. Reality returns when he notices the time and darts off, leaving the book behind for a girl to discover and begin her journey in the redwoods. The final pages include information about the environmental dangers that the redwoods face, some nature graphics drawn to scale, and an inspiring author's note. This inventive story will charm and educate readers and send their imaginations soaring.--Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY

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