The United States has some of the most spectacular scenery and wonderful wildlife on the planet, and nowhere is that more evident than in its national parks. National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber explores each of the country’s 59 parks one by one, showcasing their heritage, geology, ecology, and more.
National Parks of the USA covers the parks by region and is divided into seven sections: East, Central, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, West, Alaska, and Tropics. Each section gets a double-page spread which introduces it and the type of environment which defines that region. The parks are then introduced one by one and each park receives two double-page spreads. The first double-page spread showcases a stunning illustration by Chris Turnham and introduces the park in broad, descriptive terms more reminiscent of a travel brochure than a factual book.
The second double-page spread for each park is where the most detail is to be found. Every park gets a basic fact box which tells us which state(s) the park is located in, the year it was founded, and how many acres it covers. The rest of the pages are devoted to looking at what you will find there. This is mostly plants and animals, but you will also read information about the park’s geology and landscape, archeology, weather, current issues, and man-made history. Every item on these pages is accompanied by another small illustration and the book doesn’t shy aware from discussing difficult topics which have been part of the history of these locations, including the slave trade and the difficulties imposed upon native people. By reading only these two pages I was able to get a good idea of what each park is like, even for the parks I knew little or nothing about beforehand.
The book ends with an A-Z of wildlife complete with a challenge to find out which park each creature lives in, and a reminder that we need to protect these parks or their history and scenery will be lost to future generations. There’s also an index which lists the names of all the parks, plants, animals, geological features, and more that are covered in the book, making this an excellent homework resource as well as an enjoyable read by itself.
My only complaints about National Parks of the USA were that it uses some really awful fonts which often made it difficult to read (this is especially true of the first double-page spread for each park) and that it wasn’t long enough; I could have happily read at least two more pages about each park. As beautiful as the illustrations were—and there are many I would happily hang on my walls—it would have been lovely to see at least one photograph of each park as well in order to see how they look in the real world compared to the illustrations, perhaps in a “postcard” section at the end.
National Parks of the USA made me want to jump on a plane to America and head off on a trip to visit all 59 parks. The combination of illustrations and text made every park seem beautiful and full of its own unique magic, whether that’s from exploring the ancient dwellings of native people, spotting creatures I’ve only ever seen photographs of, or climbing a mountain to be the first person in the United States to see the sunrise. I foresee many future visits to these amazing locations for myself and anyone who reads this book.
GeekMom received this book for review purposes.