Blueink Review

Alice and Jack Hike the Grand Canyon

Amy Graves and Pam Schweitzer; illustrated by McKenzie Robinson 

OpalAve Publishing, 48 pages, (hardcover) $24.99, 978-1-7363106-0-1 

(Reviewed: May 2022)

Two children prepare for, and later complete, a challenging hike at one of the wonders of the natural world in the children’s picture book Alice and Jack Hike the Grand Canyon.

Alice, a girl who enjoys family trips with her parents and younger brother, narrates the story of their vacation to Grand Canyon National Park during spring break. Having acquired a permit to hike and camp in the canyon, they begin preparing four months ahead, with a series of shorter hikes. Alice battles her worries about heights; the kids learn how to handle getting lost, and have their first overnight camping trip.

Their training pays off when they finally arrive at the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trailhead. As they follow their several-day itinerary, they appreciate the clear night skies and uninterrupted family time, leading to Alice asking her mother at book’s end, “where are we going next?”

The book communicates the thrills, hazards, beauty, and sense of accomplishment that come with hiking or any endeavor that requires planning and determination. Hiking’s dangers are addressed in a gentle way that informs children without frightening them.

The art is simple and clear while still providing ample, and often radiant detail, like a two-page spread of a hummingbird investigating cactus blooms as the children prance and stomp through rain puddles. Such two-page images are used several times throughout the book, transmitting scale and vistas in a way a single-page image can’t.

The inclusion of Grand Canyon facts and hiking etiquette, along with a bibliography and trail map, make this a perfect primer for the real thing. But even non-adventurers can learn from this fictional family’s teamwork, cooperation, and encouragement; when Alice confesses her fears about the difficult hike back up from the canyon’s bottom, her father says, “We’ll take it one step at a time.”

This is a wonderful children’s book that will inspire an appreciation of the outdoors and perhaps some personal hiking adventures as well.

Also available as an ebook.