water, canyons, and American Dippers…three books full of wonder

I’m slowly easing into normal life after an extraordinary couple of weeks in Scandinavia. One of the highlights was the breathtaking scenery of Norway.


It’s hard to imagine living amid that kind of gorgeousness and not being tuned in to the natural world. Yet there is wonder and beauty everywhere, and today’s books entice us to get outdoors and marvel at what surrounds us.

water is water cover imageWater is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle, by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin
published in 2015 by Roaring Brook Press

This title is getting many vigorous nods of approval in the children’s lit world, and for good reason: It’s beautiful and brilliant.

Miranda Paul has pared down her clever text to a point of remarkable simplicity. Her sparkling narrative, infused with zesty words, curious questions, and surprising twists at every page turn, effortlessly engages us as it brings us full circle through both the water cycle and the seasons. 

water is water illustration 2 jason chin

Jason Chin’s fabulous paintings take this short text and dress it in beauty, life, gleeful play, and community, with the glories of each season spread out before us at every turn. I adore the array of outdoor activities these children are busy about!

TJ104-7-2014 JKT 175L CTP.indd

Several pages further explain the fascinating facts about water we’ve just glimpsed. The main text is accessible to ages 2 and up; the end matter is suited to early elementary kids. I love this book! Do take a look.

in the canyon cover imageIn the Canyon, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
published in 2015 by Beach Lane Books

The young girl in this story has her hiking boots on and her Tilley hat smartly perched on her head. She’s set to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and we get to experience the trail along with her!

The long trek down, down, down, meanders past unusual plants and animals, switchbacks through brightly-hued layers of rock, until finally it reaches the Colorado River at the very bottom.

in the canyon illustration2 ashley wolff

Ashley Wolff’s bold, sun-baked block prints are the stars of the book. I love the heat and strength of these illustrations which really usher us into this unusual world. I’ve hiked this trail, and felt transported there through Wolff’s radiant artwork, which as always has tremendous child-appeal.

in the canyon interior ashley wolff

Thanks to Liz Garton Scanlon for letting this pip-squeak hike such a doozy of a trail and treasure that wilderness experience even as she returns to the city. Ages 2 and up, with added notes about the canyon’s flora and fauna for slightly older children.

the singer in the stream cover imageThe Singer in the Stream: A Story of American Dippers, by Katherine Hocker and Mary Wilson, illustrations by Katherine Hocker
published in 2015 by Yosemite Conservancy

This little bird, whose feet as you can see, are not webbed, swims underwater!

The American Dipper was John Muir’s favorite bird, and he learned to look for it near waterfalls and rushing rapids, “flitting about in the spray, diving in its foaming eddies, whirling like a leaf…

american dipper from juneauempire dot com

Learn about this feisty, sweet-singing bird who weaves mossy nests the size of volleyballs, always near a stream. Watch the chicks hatch, take their first terrified leap out of the nest, and learn to dive underwater for the waterbugs they love to eat. 

Three hungry babies!

Three hungry babies!

There’s gobs of information in the end pages about Dippers, the process of studying them undertaken by the author American Dipper feeding underwater.and illustrator, and John Muir’s fascination with them. I’m not sure how easy it is to locate this book, but it’s a fine glimpse of nature study that inspires us to look more carefully at what’s in our own back yards. 

Ages 6 and up.