coral reefs

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

Chin follows up the success of Redwoods with this equally fine read.  The nonfiction magical realism continues, this time exploring coral reefs.  A girl enters the New York Public Library and selects this same book from the shelves.  As she turns the pages, coral begins to grow around her on the tables and floor.  She learns new facts about coral reefs when suddenly the room is flooded.  She continues to read, happily floating with the fish and sea turtle of the reef.  The food chain is explored and sharks appear in the water.  Soon she is floating in the city, entirely flooded with the reef growing upon it, almost unrecognizable through the coral, blue water and the creatures.  The book ends with another group of children seeing the girl dripping outside the library, taking the book and reading it with her.  They all swim together into the coral reefs.

As a librarian, I always love books that are set in libraries and that speak, as this one does so clearly, to the power of shared reading and libraries in children’s lives.  Chin mixes nonfiction facts with his magical settings in ways that astonish and engage. 

The facts on each page work with the illustrations, which demonstrate the facts in picture form.  Chin’s art is lovely from the floating delight of the girl to the menacing sharks to the light that plays in the water. 

This is a book that invites you in and teaches you facts and information while you too are happily floating along.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

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