Monday, June 17, 2013

Volcano Rising - a review

Rusch, Elizabeth. 2013. Volcano Rising. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
(Advance Reader Copy requested from publisher)

When kids think of volcanoes, they likely think of the awesome destructive power of  famous volcanoes past and present -  Mount Vesuvius, Krakatoa, Mount St. Helens, Mount Etna, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa.  However, if you've ever read James Michener's epic novel, Hawaii, or traveled to Hawaii, you know of the incredible creative power of volcanoes.  Each of the Hawaiian islands was created by a volcano, its molten lava rising, spreading, cooling, hardening, and eventually creating the Hawaiian island chain with its famous black sand beaches.

Volcano Rising focuses on this unique and often unheralded aspect of volcanoes, giving examples of various ways in which volcanoes may have "creative eruptions." A particularly helpful aspect of the book is its duality as a read-aloud for younger children and a more detailed text for independent readers.  In white or black text against double-spread illustrations, large text is aimed at a read-aloud audience, while smaller text delves deeper,

Creative eruptions can continue for a really long time. WHOOSH, fountains of red-hot lava squirt high into the air.  GURGLE, stinky lava streams to the shore. TSSSS, fluid lava hits the ocean, steaming, and hardens to form new land.
For more than twenty-five years, shield volcano Kilaueau (kee-lau-WAY-ah) on the Big Island of Hawaii has been in a state of creative eruption. Shield volcanoes have lots of vents, allowing runny lava to leak from cracks to form broad mounds that are shaped like shields.
Kilaueau's constant eruption has added more than 500 acres (202 hectares) to the island--that's more than 314 soccer fields! No one works or plays soccer on this new acreage yet. But they will. After all, where would the people of Hawaii live if not for the creative eruptions that helped build all their islands?
Often an artistically illustrated nonfiction book lacks the punch of a photographic one, but not in Volcano Rising.  Because the focus of the book is the process rather than the explosion, the colorfully inventive collage art of Susan Swan is perfectly suited to the text, helping to define the concept of creative eruptions in an art form created
by manipulating found objects, hand-painted papers and scans of objects and textures in Adobe Photoshop to create new patterns,adding digital paintings; and then collaging the two together
The effect is vibrant and stunning.

Volcano Vocabulary, Selected Bibliography, and Learn More sections round out this great new title.

Note: In 1980, I experienced a volcano in a very small way.  In the aftermath of the Mount Saint Helens eruption, volcanic ash rained down.  Workers were hosing the scratchy dust off vehicles as they traveled through town.  Pedestrians were wearing surgical masks to avoid breathing the ash and dust.  I scurried from bus to train as I made my way out of Portland, Oregon - more than 70 miles from the site of the explosion.  Nature is truly impressive and awesome and constantly reminds us that we are much smaller than we think.

Nonfiction Monday is here today! 
 Please add your post to the form and check back later to see the roundup of today's contributions.

Please keep in mind that I work all day, 
so all of the posts may not be updated until much later in the evening.

  • Jen from Perogies and Gyoza shares When I Was Eight, a beautifully illustrated story about a very determined girl who survived the abuses of the Canadian residential school system and achieved her goal to read (and now to write).

  • Frog Song by Brenda Guiberson, is the featured book at Jean Little Library, where Jennifer shares her experience of using Frog Song with 4-year-olds.

  • Anastasia of Booktalking says, "Summer is a good time to eat light healthy meals, so here are some recipes for kids to try!" Check out Delicious Vegetarian Main Dishes, part of the You're the Chef series, at her blog.

  • Food is popular today!  Cindy and Lynn at Bookends also reviewed Relish, noting that "they enjoyed serving up this visual feast of a graphic novel foodie biography."

  • At Stacking Books, Reshama is featuring Into the Deep, the "story of Naturalist and Explorer William Bebe. Beautifully illustrated and a great read for introducing the concept of what is a Naturalist."

And that's a wrap, folks!  I'll add any late entries tomorrow.


  1. We live 6 km from one of the most active volcanoes in the world. So we are daily witnesses to the awesome power of the volcano, but my kids don't know much about why it happens. I will have to find this to let them know why we have to sweep ash off our porch almost every morning!

  2. Rats! I'm doing a volcano program in July and it looks like this one comes out just after. Oh, well. I'm definitely adding it to my next order! Thanks for the review!

  3. Thanks for hosting! I'm reviewing the stunning picture book biography Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey, by Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez

  4. DD is absolutely fascinated by Volcanoes and earthquakes!Thanks for sharing this one with a different perspective. We love reading about nature. DD is sure to like it.


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