cover image Island: A Story of the Galapagos

Island: A Story of the Galapagos

Jason Chin. Roaring Brook/Flash Point/Porter, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-716-6

Chin (Coral Reefs) does more than just explain how species of reptiles and birds on the Galapagos have evolved. He begins with the birth of the islands themselves, a process in which volcanic eruptions punch successive holes in the Earth’s surface as tectonic plates move over them. Set against changes in the islands’ climate and geology over many millennia, the adaptations of the islands’ animals take on new significance. Many explanations of Darwin’s work mention Galapagos finches and the trend toward stronger beaks; fewer clarify that the larger seeds a stronger beak can crack are all that’s left as the islands subside and droughts become more common. Other changes are attributed to drought, too: tortoise shells develop a “saddleback” shape, “better for keeping cool and navigating the desert.” Chin’s artwork features rich color, inviting detail, and a dynamic balance between small serial panels and majestic spreads. It’s a remarkable work and an asset for educators struggling to present material about evolution in a balanced way. Explicating scientific content this gracefully and clearly is no small achievement. Ages 5–9. (Sept.)