Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Volcano Rising

Volcano Rising
written by Elizabeth Rusch; illustrated by Susan Swan
2013 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Prose and Kahn

But volcanoes are not just destructive. Much more often, volcanoes are creative. They grow taller and wider. They form majestic mountains. And they build new islands where there were none before. 

Are you thinking what I was thinking when I saw this book? Another volcano book. Do I need another volcano book? Yes, you will want this volcano book. Why? Let me explain:

  • There are two levels of text working in this book. The larger font is read aloud material. With a generous helping of onomatopoeia, listeners will enjoy learning about the difference between creative and destructive explosions. Elizabeth Rusch succinctly explains that it is the difference between a blast and seeping out. The second level of text is for students that want to dig deeper and learn more. Typed in a smaller font, this text supplements the larger font text. For example, author Rusch can take the time to explain how gas is the determining factor in what kind of explosion is happening. When lava, ash, and gases all explode at once due to blockage of vents or thick magma, you have a destructive explosion. This is compared to soda from a shaken can. Creative explosions are like slowly unscrewing a soda bottle as opposed to a violent rush of sound and liquid. Later on in the book, Rusch explains that most explosions are a combination of both creative and destructive. Readers will also learn about some of the surprising places that you can find volcanic explosions. I really like the two tiered approach to the text. It could be used to teach the skill of summarizing. A lesson on main idea and supporting details would work as well. 

  • The illustrations for Volcano Rising are fabulous! Readers will enjoy the 3D effect created by the collages without needing glasses or having to pay extra. 

  • The treatment of key vocabulary is thoughtful. There are pronunciation keys for important terms and names of places. When you are reading about places in Hawaii and Iceland, that is very helpful. I learned new terms like caldera and tephra and Hawaiian terms 'a'a and pahoehoe. There are several opportunities for teaching how to maneuver through difficult vocabulary in nonfiction. 
Volcano Rising is a rare informational text that can be shared with several grade levels. Primary teachers can read the large print and use the illustrations to teach about volcanoes. Older readers can do research using the smaller text. Find this book and add it to your science collection!

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  1. I've seen this title highly recommended around the kidlit blogosphere recently, but I appreciate the depth of your review, Jeff. Onomatopoeia in non-fiction? Love it! It's also good to know that there are layers of text that help with differentiating for kids at various reading levels. Also, this is the first inside illustration that I've seen, and it's even more gorgeous than the fabulous cover. Am definitely adding this one to our library shelves.


  2. Nice to know it has layers!

    We live very close to a volcano and if there were a disaster it would be the cause. So I am always torn between fear-mongering and finding things that would give us more knowledge. Looks like this has more information than fear, thanks.


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