Two thousand miles is a staggering distance for any kind of journey. But imagine making it not by car or even foot but by fin. That’s what faces Chinook, a female king salmon, as she takes a dramatic trip to safely deliver her eggs. From the Bering Sea, up the Yukon River, and on to the Nisutlin River, A King Salmon Journey takes young readers on an engaging ride through the waters of Alaska and Canada, bringing to life the biology and mystery of one of the world’s most popular fish. Based on the story of a real-life Chinook, this beautifully illustrated book deftly combines science with a fast-paced tale of survival and perseverance.
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Debbie S. Miller is the author of dozens of books for children and adults, including A Caribou Journey and A Woolly Mammoth Journey, both from the University of Alaska Press. She lives near Fairbanks, Alaska. John H. Eiler has worked for more than thirty years as a research biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska. He lives in Juneau, Alaska.From School Library Journal:
Gr 2–4—Based on a true study, in which Eiler served as a researcher, this informational picture book offers a travel log of one female king salmon's 63-day journey from the Bering Sea to a spawning site up the Nisutlin River, recorded by a radio transmitter placed in the fish's stomach. Through descriptive text, simple maps, and side boxes of data, Miller and Eiler tell the tale of this salmon, referred to as Chinook, clearly explaining the behavior, physical characteristics, and habits of this species. Additional details on changing conditions, obstacles, wildlife, and shoreline along the 2000 plus mile route freshen the writing style. Snippets highlighting the importance of salmon to nearby regions and people draw attention to human dependence on salmon migration. Some adults may question the feelings attributed to the fish ("Chinook feels a powerful urge to return to the freshwater stream where she was born."). Van Zyle's watercolorlike artwork augments the informational value of the book with visuals of not only Chinook but the people and changing environment along the waterway trail. Separate author notes with relevant background and information on conservation have been appended. This book differs from others on the subject in its level of documentation and emphasis on one specific salmon's journey. Bobbie Kalman and Rebecca Sjonger's The Life Cycle of a Salmon (Crabtree, 2007) provides similar information in a more structured format. Jason Cooper's Pacific Salmon (Rourke, 2003) offers briefer treatment, as does Kathleen Martin-James' Swimming Salmon (Lerner, 2003), aimed at a much younger audience. A good introduction to the subject.—Lynn Vanca, Freelance Librarian, Akron, OH
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