Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Volcano Rising

Volcano Rising

Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrator:  Susan Swan 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Charlesbridge, 2013   ISBN: 978-1580894081

Usually when people think of volcanoes they think of those dramatic eruptions that are destructive and that are talked about on the radio and television.  What many people don’t know is that more often than not, volcanoes are creative rather than destructive. If the gas that is expelled from a volcano’s vent is able to escape slowly and not explosively, then the magma that comes to the surface flows slowly, creating new land or building a mountain. If the creative eruption takes places under water, over time the layers of lava can build up until an island forms. This is how Hawaiian Islands were created.

   Sometimes volcanic creation events happen very quickly. In a field in Mexico a cinder cone reached 164 feet (50 meters) in just one day. More typically, creation volcanoes build mountains or land slowly and over a long period of time. On the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea, a shield volcano, has been erupting for twenty-five years and has created 500 acres (202 hectares) of new land.

   Most volcanoes are both creative and destructive. This is certainly the case with Mount St. Helens in Washington State. In 1980 this relatively quiet volcano literally blew its top. It lost 1,300 feet (396 meters) off the top of the mountain. Since then the volcano has been rebuilding what it lost and one day it will be as tall as it was before the 1980 eruption.

   Though creative volcanoes can destroy buildings and knock down trees, they rarely harm people because people can “outwalk, or outrun, them.” People do try to stop creative eruptions, but so far efforts to control lava flows have, for the most part, not been very successful.

   In this excellent book the author presents children with the story of volcanoes, focusing on volcanoes that create rather than destroy. Each spread has a short easy-to-understand section of text that introduces the topic featured on that page. Then there is a longer and more detailed section of text, which is where the author explores the topic further. Gorgeous artwork serves as a backdrop for the text.

   This book can be enjoyed on two levels. The artwork and short text sections will capture the interest of young readers, while older readers will enjoy finding out more when they read the longer text sections.