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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows the natural features and wildlife of several national parks, including Florida's Everglades, Arizona's Grand Canyon, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Yosemite in California. A list of states and their national parks is provided at the back, and a map of the United States appears on the endpapers.
"Get out there!" It's fun to go to new places and see new things. Turn off your screen/device and look around so you don't miss anything. It's fun to play and explore outside. Family vacations are fun, even if your parents sing along to show tunes in the car.
Positive Role Models
Jane's parents and brother are always up for a good time and discovering new things. They're kind and patient with Jane even when she's grumpy or ignoring them while focused solely on her iPad. Jane shows she can be wowed by natural beauty and changes her attitude midway through the trip as she discovers the wonders of the natural world.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Our Great Big Backyard, by former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter, Today Show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, is a colorful picture book narrated by a young girl named Jane, whose family road trip to several national parks derails her plans for a summer of playing video games and communicating online with her friends. But once her dad shows her the stars over Texas' Big Bend National Park and she puts her devices down, she discovers the sky, rivers, mountains, desert, and wildlife around her, enjoys playing with her little brother, and doesn't mind being silly with her fun-loving parents. It's a gentle message to "get out there," at home or on the road.
Is It Any Good?
This ode to wholesome family fun and exciting national parks shows what a great time you can have exploring natural places. Its message to put down your devices, "get out there," and engage in imaginative play comes across with a fairly light touch, a bit of humor ("What did the ranger say to the skunk? Smell you later, take a hike!"), and some solid facts ("Americans call this a buffalo, but it is a bison.")
Illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers offer lots to look at and a few gags, as well as reflecting what the kids are imagining -- for example, picturing them as pirates while river-rafting down the Colorado River and as astronauts on Mars while they climb red rocks in the desert. The book includes a list of states and their national parks at the back, a couple of online resources for planning a national park visit, and a map of the United States on the endpapers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.