The Krakatau Eruption
written by Peter Benoit
2011 (Children's Press)
Source: Mebane Public Library
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It's hard to decide what is the most amazing fact presented in The Krakatau Eruption. One of the four explosions from the volcano on August 27, 1883 was heard and felt 3,000 miles away. Ash and smoke covered 300,000 square miles. A 1,400 foot mountain was leveled. Perhaps most astonishing was that average temperatures around the globe dropped by 2.2 degrees in the year following the explosion. Unfortunately, with these facts students will be able to infer that great tragedy also ensued. Over 36,000 people lost their lives due to the eruption of this Indonesian volcano. Most of those deaths were due to tsunamis caused by the explosion.
Peter Benoit mixes science and history to explain this harrowing event. Benoit informs readers that Krakatau, like many other volcanoes, was not a sudden explosion. Three months of earthquakes led up to the events of August 27th. This information presents an opportunity for students to create a timeline of the events leading to the eruption. You can also teach a lesson on sequence. Other lessons on cause and effect could be taught as well. Benoit explains how much damage was inflicted on two of the biggest Indonesian islands, Java and Sumatra. He also talks about geographic changes such as the formation of sandbars and effects on the Earth's atmosphere including spectacular sunrises and sunsets in Europe and North America that were created by volcanic dust. The last chapter focuses on what scientists think they have learned from this monumental volcanic eruption and how it still affects people more than 100 years later.
Students who like reading about natural phenomena (hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc.) will enjoy The Krakatau Eruption. Teachers will appreciate the use of nonfiction text features and the resources in the back matter.