Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Look Around You And See

By definition the state of Michigan is a peninsula.  Four of the five Great Lakes border its land.  You rarely have to travel more than ten minutes to arrive at one of its eleven thousand inland lakes.  A 26,372 foot bridge, the largest suspension bridge in the Western hemisphere, spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects the upper and lower peninsulas of the state.  Surprisingly forests cover at least fifty percent of the land in this state.

For these reasons you grow up and live here understanding various terms associated with its land and its water. Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, May 22, 2018) written and illustrated by Christy Hale takes what you know (or may not know) and grows it to include places found outside your state or even your country.  With an adept use of die-cuts we visit five water and five land forms.

These ten places are revealed through paired combinations of water and land.  Single words or a simple phrase labels each form.  These sets of two are near opposites. 

An idyllic scene of a small lake surrounded by trees in autumnal bloom with a page turn becomes a tropical island enveloped by water as far as the eye can see.  For each form individuals and their activities tell a story relative to the term. A young girl tosses red leaves in the air as a boy lazily fishes in the nearby lake.  The same girl frantically sends puffs of smoke into the air spelling SOS from a leaf turned into a small blaze.  The boy in the boat has caught something on his line.  It's one of two floating bottles with HELP! written on the side.

We venture to a wide expanse of sandy beach by the sea which shrinks as water wraps around three sides.  A busy narrow strip of water shifts to a busy narrow strip of land.  Within a woodland landscape a group of lakes alters and changes to a cluster of islands in a large body of water.  

Our understanding heightens with each pairing as the rhythm asks us to seek similarities.  After the final set, the five water forms are shown with the five land forms beneath them across two pages including short concise definitions for all ten.  This is followed by a huge gatefold (six individual pages together) featuring a world map with examples of each form marked.  The right folded edge lists all the forms with six to seven specific examples around the globe.  Continents and oceans are also named to close this array of information.

Verbally fashioned for the youngest readers Christy Hale keeps the terminology as well as the definitions simple.  The water and land groups of two are excellent selections.  The intended audience will be able to remember these words easily with the comparisons. Here is one group.


A strait is a narrow body of
water connecting two larger
bodies of water.

An isthmus is a narrow 
strip of land connecting two
larger pieces of land. 

By opening the book case readers are introduced to the limited color palette of hues of blue, sandy yellow and red with spots of white and black. (Green is used in limited amounts on interior images.)  The boy and the boat on the front are seen in the first pair.  To the left of the spine, on the back, a lake and an island are shown along with the kind of information found on flaps of a dust jacket.  The opening and closing endpapers represent water and land.  The first is a vivid blue and the second is a bright golden yellow.

The title page is split between land and water. The word water is on the land color and the word land is on the water color.  A seagull is perched on the "w" for water.  Between the "n" and "d" in land a fish swims upward. 

The illustrations by Christy Hale were rendered using printed textures and digital layering.  Her die-cuts cleverly tell two separate stories by using the same elements in each one.  Readers will eagerly look for the subtle and sometimes humorous details; the change in the hat the boy is wearing in the lake/island pair and the bear sleeping in one of the tents in the system of lakes scene.

One of my favorite illustrations is the first one.  It sets the stage for many wondrous reveals.  The colorful leaves on two trees form a border on the left and along the bottom of the entire double-page image changing in size and perspective.  Both the girl on land throwing the leaves and the boy in the boat are happy and relaxed.  Christy Hale uses shading to wondrous effect.  The die-cut of the lake becomes the island in the next picture. 

This book, Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World written by Christy Hale is a marvelous and creative book for introducing geographic terms.  The stories unfolding on each page turn assist in supplying a mnemonic formula captivating readers.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal book collections.

To learn more about Christy Hale and her other work, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  For this title Christy includes interior images and extra activities.  At the publisher's website you can also view different interior images.

Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view other books chosen this week by participants in the 2018 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


  1. Such a brilliant book. I love it.

    1. It is a brilliant book, Annette. It's in the simplicity and the die-cuts are marvelous.