Review: Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch

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Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Susan Swan

Volcanoes can seem destructive, but in this nonfiction picture book they are shown to be sources of creation as well.  The process of eruption and magma is described and the book looks at the fact that different volcanoes move at different speeds.  The book is written in two levels, one for more of a picture book audience and the other for elementary students ready for detailed information.  While the simpler part stays general, the more detailed information includes specific volcanoes and stories of their eruptions.  The book makes volcanoes interesting rather than frightening, looking at how ash restores fields and how most creative eruptions can be out-walked by people.

Rusch’s two levels of text really stand apart from one another.  The simpler version really reads as a playful picture book complete with sounds.  It does still offer facts and information, but the deeper text is filled with those.  That longer text loses the playfulness of the shorter but is a wealth of information on volcanoes that even young enthusiasts will find fascinating.

Swan’s illustrations are done in cut paper and have a vivid color that really makes the volcanoes pop.  She shows various volcanoes in her art, contrasting them with one another nicely.  It is the images of eruptions that really explode on the page and will delight readers.

A double-layered book that can be shared in a storytime or in a science classroom.  Appropriate for ages 3-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

Review: The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

GiantSeed

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

This follow-up to the charming Ice continues the story of the community of pigs.  One night, an enormous seed landed near the homes of the pigs.  The pigs immediately set to work planting it, watering it, and caring for it.  It grew into an enormous dandelion.  Just as the flowers were blooming, a volcano near their village started to erupt.  Hot ash fell onto their homes and the pigs were forced to flee.  They found the solution in the dandelion seeds, riding them to a new island filled with trees and fresh water. 

Geisert’s pig stories are told entirely through pictures.  The long, narrow format of the book allows for a series of panels, one picture on each page, or a lovely long image that takes up the entire spread.  Geisert uses all of these formats for his images.  His illustrations are done in etchings with fine lines and small details.  The mystery of the real size of the pigs continues with one wondering if they are either very tiny pigs or the dandelions are truly larger than trees. 

As readers face another disaster alongside the pigs, they will enjoy the whimsical solution and the impressive art.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

Volcano Wakes Up!

Volcano Wakes Up! by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

This book of poems follows a day on a an imaginary Hawaiian volcano.  All of the creatures on the volcano know that something is about to happen, from the lava flow crickets to the ferns.  Even the sun and the volcano itself have poems from their perspective.  Young readers will enjoy the tension as it mounts towards the eruption and then the drama and intensity of the eruption itself. 

This is Peter’s second book of poetry about geology. Peter’s poetry ranges through a variety of different styles in the book.  Each different voice has its own poetic form.  The volcano’s verse is shaped like a mountain.  The have a curling but upright form.  There are poems told in road signs and then the crickets speak in texts.  It is a very clever device that will have children eager to  move to the next poem because of the interesting and changing nature of the verse itself.

Jenkins’ illustrations are as gorgeous as always.  Done in cut-paper collage, they perfectly capture the changing nature of the day.  Some illustrations are crisp and clear, with detailed crickets and ferns.  Others are landscapes with mists and mountains that are soft and evocative.  Simply lovely.

A perfect marriage of science, poetry and art, this book will be adored by volcano fans and poetry fans alike.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.