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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Scholastic National Park Series

If you know me, or have looked around my website, you'll guess that I love spending time outdoors. I have hiked, camped, and explored most of the National Parks in the western U.S. Many of my favorite, and not so favorite (leaking tent camper and a long gravel road), memories occurred when I spent time with my family outdoors. So, when Scholastic asked if I would be interested in books on National Parks - how could I resist?

Scholastic has created two new, nonfiction nature series exploring the history (both human and geologic) of the U.S. National Parks, the animals and plants found there, and the unique features that make each park special. I had the opportunity to examine and compare the Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone books in both series. This was fun, as I just visited Yellowstone this summer and the Smoky Mountain is one if the National Parks I haven't visited, yet.


The Rookie National Parks series are 32-page chapter books for grades 1-2. The four chapters feature stunning photographs in and around the parks and a cute animated character, Ranger Red Fox, as a tour guide.

The fox appears on each two-page photographic spread with interesting tidbits of facts or questions. Did you know 30 kinds of salamanders live in the Smokies? Hmm, well did you know some of them are lungless? Yep, that's right, no lungs.

In addition to highlighting important features or facts about each park, these books include a: (1) field guide of animals; (2) map reading exercise; (3) wildflower/leaf tracker; and (4) glossary. They are great STEM additions to the classroom or homeschooling, as well scouting troops, since they cover geology, mathematics, and biology in an engaging manner.

Scholastic also has Rookie National Park books for the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks.


The True Book National Parks series are 48-page chapter books for grades 3-5. The five chapters also feature stunning photographs of each park, highlighting its special or unique activities, plants, and animals.

While this series doesn't have a "tour guide," it still provides lots of obscure facts and history. Did you know soldiers used to wash their clothes by putting them into Old Faithful? They did. When the clothes shot back out, they were clean. Crazy, huh.

A few other differences between these series, besides the length & number of chapters, is the True Book's section on ecology and park preservation and the opening "Find the Truth!" section. Each book begins with two statements about the park. One of them is true. The answers are contained within the book and confirmed at the end.

These books delve into greater depth on the important features or facts about each park and the animals and plants that exist within their boundaries. Like the Rookies books, they are a great STEM addition to the classroom or homeschooling, as well as scouting troops, providing a detailed, scientific field guide of animals, map reading exercise, and glossary.

To help explore geology, mathematics, and biology, these books also include a: (1) timeline; (2) park fact file chart; (3) graph; (4) field guide; (5) map exercise; and (5) an animal tracker. They make it fun and exciting to learn about and understand why National Parks are important and deserve our protection.

Scholastic also has A True Book National Park books for the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks.

The stunning images, conversational narrative, and cool facts (like Zion National Park is home to both desert tortoise and beavers) make it fun to learn about these parks.

These books are great for developing critical reading skills, starting or expanding in depth research projects, or a way to explore National Parks on the opposite side of the country. If your favorite National Park book isn't written yet, what information would you put into a similar book? Which National Park do you wish you could visit?

Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, or just admiring some amazing landscapes, plants, and animals these books are well worth your time.

Though I received copies of these books for the purpose of this review, the opinions are entirely my own.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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