Book Review: Ricky’s Atlas by Judith L. Li, Illustrations by M. L. Herring

Ricky Zamora loves the high desert area where his aunt, uncle, and cousins live. The terrain is much drier than the town west of the Cascade Mountains where he lives. But he arrives for a visit during a thunderstorm, and he gets to see how rain can bring both life-giving water and danger when a forest fire breaks out. As his uncle and cousin help neighbors and support the firefighters, Ricky learns a lot about how plants and animals adapt to fire-prone environments.

Ricky’s Atlas by Judith L. Li is a companion book to Ellie’s Log, which explored a wet forest ecology. In this book, Ricky’s friend Ellie gets involved too, helping Ricky and his cousins map the recovery of plants and animals in an area burned by a previous fire. The fictionalized story helps kids learn about all kinds of real-life facts, such as how to measure distance from lightning and thunder, why some trees need fire to spread their seeds, and what the lines on a topography map mean.

Some of M. L Herring’s illustrations are journal-style, and they could inspire kids to make their own observations. Others showcase sidebar-type facts that go with the story. With its combination of fiction and nonfiction, Ricky’s Atlas has appeal to readers aged 9 to 12 who love either or both genres.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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