November 5, 2015
In the Canyon by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
In the Canyon
by Liz Garton Scanlon
illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Beach Lane Books
Rhyming couplets narrate a young girl’s hike into the Grand Canyon. Yep. The Canyon.
From the rim to the base of the canyon and back out again, readers follow the narrator as she describes her experience. Kingbirds, red-tailed hawks and condors are named without the text feeling weighed down. Information is doled out a bit here and bit there without bogging down the story. An author’s note at the end of the book gives a bit more information on geology and the various animals. She also observes the surrounding stone, petroglyphs and fellow visitors to the canyon.
Don’t worry! Mom and Dad are there but they remain quietly in the background.
The heavy black lines of the block print illustrations give a slight stained-glass effect to the art without pieces feeling rigid or static. Personally I loved the warm oranges and deep purples of the desert that were used to color a landscape that many people think of as barren and lifeless.
The illustrations also add a bit more information than is delivered in the text. The condor mentioned in the story has a wildlife tag and the end papers include a map that flags various points of interest found throughout the canyon.
I’ve never hiked the canyon so I did have one question while reading the book but that point was clarified in the author’s note. Visitors really can and do take overnight trips into the canyon.
This would make an excellent bed time story but it also suitable for the classroom as it teaches about canyon life. It could also be used to launch a writing exercise involving observation and description.