Friday, May 20, 2011

Children's Book Review: Adventures in Alaska by Ron Hirschi

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages

My Review:

I remember as a child, always writing and sending postcards when I went away with my family during summer vacations.  And, the best part of this was knowing that I would also receive postcards from friends and family who were also taking summer trips.  I just loved receiving postcards in the mail and looking at the beautiful pictures of the places people had been.  It was great pretending that I was preparing to travel to these far off places with my stuffed animals and dreaming about the adventures I would encounter.  Over the years, I had collected and stored these postcards in a photo album.  It was nice on rainy days to pull out the book and look at the photos, wondering if I would ever travel to these places.  And, many years later, I still have many of these postcards and add to the collection when I finally make it to these destinations.

That being said, this story follows two young children from Ohio, who travel with their parents to Alaska for vacation.  While there, they write and send postcards to classmates back home at the Pickerington at Whalestreet Elementary School.  I just loved the illustrations and reading each and every postcards that is found as you turn the page of this well-written book.  With the age of technology, it is still nice to grab a pen and paper/postcard and write a short note.  If you want to share an Alaskan adventure with your children, all while teaching them about sharing their own upcoming summer adventures with postcards, this is a great book to pick up and share.  Your children will love the beautiful illustrations done by Yuko Green.  

And, as the adventure comes to an end, the reader is left with a beautiful poem, written by an elementary student.  What a great ending!!!

This is a must read book for families who like to share adventures and journey to new places, through reading.

About the Author:

Ron’s writing career began when he became fascinated with children’s books he read to his daughter, Nichol. He also works as a biologist and when he tried to find nature books to enhance Nichol’s curiosity about the world around her, he found few that combined real life images and accurate science. He was also seeing, firsthand, the incredible damage to stream and ocean habitats that was occurring in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest. Ron felt a need to add his voice to the growing concern over declining animal populations and soon began writing books with a vision to bring young readers portraits of the beauty of nature as well as information about the ecology and natural habitat of wild creatures he studies and tries to protect.
His writing and field research often blend with fun environmental projects. Ron involves his readers with the subjects of his books and has been invited to schools to create nature trails, plant butterfly gardens, restore streams, and to design a marsh that supports plants long used by Native Americans as basket weaving materials. At home in Washington State, he recently teamed with an after-school program to create an ambitious effort that included protection of Nick’s Lagoon, a 35-acre estuary and watershed that are home to endangered salmon.

In the midwest, Ron has introduced hundreds of young people to the water world. He has also helped restore wetlands and even had a hand in “bringing a whale to Ohio." Okay, it's a whale sculpture, but a life-sized whale tail that is a great example of how his work inspires the pairing of art and ecology within schools and communities. You can see the whale at along with updates on stream restoration and beaver workshops at Nick’s Lagoon.

Ron Hirschi's books often evolve from working with students. Pieces of their writing, ideas gathered during hands-on writing sessions, and the enthusiasm for a particular kind of animal all make an impression. His book Whalemail grew from the hundreds of class visits in which Ron wrote postcards to kids in the persona of a whale. His newest book, Swimming With Humuhumu builds on the postcard theme and features his two (imaginary so far) grandchildren as they discover the wonders of Hawai’i and write notes and messages in a bottle back to their Gramma, Ron’s wife of 35 years, Brenda.

Ron and Brenda live on Marrowstone Island at the edge of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. He works as a Fisheries Biologist for Pacific Northwest Indian Tribes and has written many technical reports on fish and wildlife. He especially enjoys collaborating with other artists. He and Tom Mangelsen share a passion for the natural world and have worked together for more than a dozen years. When not working as a biologist or writing, Ron spends time hiking, fishing, snorkeling, reading, cooking, or baking chocolate chip cookies.

Click here to visit Ron's website.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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