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Children's LiteratureIn readable prose addressed to the proficient first grade or second grade reader, this nonfiction "Rookie Reader" book introduces basic geographic facts about the Rocky Mountains, using a map, colorful photographs, and one to three sentences per page. Vocabulary includes some specific place names such as states, two national parks, and Trail Ridge Road. The informative text introduces the concepts of elevation, glaciers, and wildfires plus some of the uses to which these mountains are put. While skiing is a huge moneymaking industry in parts of the Rockies, it only gets a brief mention while camping gets the picture. A white-collared bear is not labeled but is actually an American black bear. The term "krummholz ("crooked tree") is used to describe the area just below the timberline where trees struggle to grow. It's an interesting if perhaps less useful term for first or second grade readers than "foothills," "boulders," or even "fourteeners" (what locals call the tallest peaks) might have been, but it does provide an introduction to the fascinating specialized vocabulary of any given field. Taken as a whole, the series introduces important concepts and geologic features of mountains, provides pictures to talk about, and introduces major mountain ranges to new readers as well as challenged or less-able older ones. 2004, Scholastic, Ages 5 to 7.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.