December 30, 2013
Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin
A Story of the Galapagos
by Jason Chin
A Neal Porter Book: Roaring Brook Press
“A volcano has been growing under the ocean for millions of years. With this eruption it rises above the water for the first time, and a new island is born.”
So opens Island, Chin’s account of one Galapagos island. He takes readers from the formation of the island, how various plants and animals came to live there and how the plants and animals, and the island itself, changed over time.
Although I have read about the Galapagos, I had never considered what these islands must have looked like as each formed. While today their profiles are low, they were born of volcanic eruptions. They may never have been incredibly tall, they were doubtless taller than they are today. They are also dryer than they would have originally been and Chin shows how this change fed into the evolution that Darwin observed.
Darwin isn’t named when he first appears in the book’s fifth and final chapter, but I loved that about the book. Although the Galapagos have played a huge part in mankind’s understanding of life on this planet, we have played a much smaller part in shaping the islands themselves.
Unlike some of Chin’s earlier books, namely Redwoods and Coral Reefs, Island has no fanciful element, no child included simply to explore the environment along with the reader.
This is an excellent books for young scientists as well as teachers who are willing to address change on our planet. It really should be on every young science bookshelf.