Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure (National Geographic Kids)

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Buddy

National Geographic Kids’ Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure may sport a cartoonish cover, but there’s nothing cartoonish about the big, bold illustrations inside. Written by Ilona E. Holland for children ages 4 to 8, this vibrant little book is packed tight with some of the most beautiful images of the great outdoors that an adventure-loving reader could ever ask for.

In the book, young Elena and her twin brother Christopher are enjoying a road trip to the great outdoors with their Aunt Rosa, who also happens to be a park ranger. Their destination is the Yellowstone hot springs, where huge puffs of steam burst from vents in the ground, and microbes, algae and bacteria produce dazzling blue, yellow and red colors.

After Aunt Rosa gets a call about injured birds and asks Elena and Christopher to help find them, the twins somehow get separated and Elena becomes worried. That’s when the little stuffed bison named Buddy that is clipped to Elena’s backpack comes to life (cartoon-style) and offers comfort and companionship as Elena searches and finds her brother.

This is an exciting little book that effectively drops the reader right in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. Readers will feel awe as they behold the majesty of the mountains. They will appreciate the real-life images of the deep blue, flawless skies, the lush trees, and the breathtaking waterfalls that plunge off jagged ridges and down into the valley below. They will also get a taste for what goes on in the park, like making sure the birds and animals are okay, experiencing the steaming atmosphere, encountering real-life bison, and behaving responsibly toward the precious wildlife.

One quibble is that the story line may be difficult to follow if the reader hasn’t read previous books in the series. There is no explanation of how Buddy Bison came to hang on Elena’s backpack, why only she can hear and see him, and how he manages to come to life in the first place. But if readers can look past this minor quibble—or if they can at least get their hands on other books in the series, it will all probably become very clear.

There is a considerable amount of back matter in this book, including Elena’s journal summary (which reveals the secret that Buddy only talks to her), a gallery of photos of the park, a map of Yellowstone, and Yellowstone’s history. There is also a tip section on how to preserve this lovely national park for future generations.

This one is great for science classes, and for these upcoming events: National Parks Week (April 16-24, 2016); Earth Day (April 22); Kids to Parks Day (May 21st); and Great Outdoors Month (June). It is the perfect kiddie companion for those long family road trips and summer vacations, and it’s also spot-on for backyard enthusiasts, budding animal lovers, and future park rangers.

Best wishes and happy adventures,
Rita Lorraine

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