This is a good idea for a book, but its many weaknesses undercut its promise.
The 397 units of the National Park System, places from Acadia to Zion national parks, are great for kids to enjoy and explore. Books that help entice kids into the parks, and which provide them educational insights into the park system, are needed.
Unfortunately, while this book is filled with facts and information, not all are indeed factual and that casts a question over the rest.
The author, Erin McHugh, seems to have little experience with the National Park System and the natural processes and residents within it. Aimed at children as young as 8, the text not only does a disservice to kids and their parents hoping to learn about the parks, but to the parks themselves.
* A blurb on the cover proclaims that "the deepest rock layer in the Grand Canyon is 2 billion years old," but in the pages on Grand Canyon National Park it states that in the deepest part of the canyon the Colorado River "flows past rocks that are 1.7 billion years old," while the National Park Service places the age at 1.8 billion years.
* While Ms. McHugh writes that the Colorado River is "about eight thousand feet below the South Rim," the Park Service says it is "6,000 feet deep at its deepest point."
* The section on Lassen Volcanic National Park identifies the bald eagle as an "endangered" species, but that status was removed in 2007 when it was determined bald eagles no longer needed the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
* George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Indiana is identified as George Rogers Clark National Park and Preserve, and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, a unit of the U.S. Forest Service, is described and referred to as a "park."
* Though Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah covers not quite 6,200 acres, this book claims it spans 602,779 acres.
* The Ozette Loop, a 9.4-mile hike, is not "all along the shoreline" of Olympic National Park, but starts and finishes with boardwalks that travel roughly 3 miles each way through maritime forest.
* The text implies that Crystal Mountain, a ski resort east of Mount Rainier National Park, is actually within the park and offers "gondola rides." Perhaps that's because there's a "Mount Rainier Gondola" at the resort.
* While you can indeed ride horses in Yellowstone National Park, llama rides are not part of the activities, though llama pack trips are.
* The section on Shenandoah includes "wildflowers" among the park's "wildlife."
* Regarding Saguaro National Park, the text reads that "The park's original name, Saguaro National Monument, is a rather weird choice for a name, because there is no actual monument here."
Sadly, the editors and fact-checkers let the author down in producing a book with good intentions but too many shortcomings.