Monday, August 4, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Eruption!

Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives
Scientists in the Field series
Elizabeth Rusch

Is it insane to live in the shadow of a volcano?  More than a billion people live within the reach of a volcanic eruption.  Most of the time the people are safe and volcanic ash from previous eruptions make the land perfect for farming.  But then there are times when the volcano becomes very, very deadly.

It is 1985.  The city of Amero, Columbia has more than 30,000 inhabitants, even though it sits in the valley beneath the volcano Nevado del Ruiz.  Then, on November 13, the volcano erupts.  Instantly tons of snow is melted, starting a mudslide that will envelop the city.  More than 23,000 people are killed.  Why, with all of the sophisticated equipment of the late 20th century was this allowed to happen?  Some scientists vow, “Never Again,” and the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program was formed.

Eruption tells the story of two subsequent volcanic eruptions – Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines and Mount Merapi in Indonesia – and how scientists are now able to predict when a volcano is about to erupt and then order evacuations that are both timely and life-saving. 

I’ve only read a couple of books in the Scientist in the Field series but the ones I have read have been stellar examples of nonfiction writing.  Eruption was no exception – it was suspenseful and well-written and I learned much about volcanoes.  I highly recommend this addition.

Review copy came from my school library.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Skila Brown

Carlos lives in a peaceful little village with Mama.  He cannot wait to be grown so that he can work and help her.  But while his village might be peaceful, the country isn’t and eventually soldiers come looking for rebels that are supposedly nearby.  The soldiers leave, but they assure everyone that they will deal harshly with anyone who helps the rebels.

One day when Carlos’ mama has seen him into the forest to gather mushrooms, he hears gunshot and he realizes that the soldiers have come back everyone in the village is being massacred.  Knowing he cannot go back to the village without being killed, Carlos decides to try and reach his grandmother’s village high up on the mountain so that he can warn the people there of the great danger they are in.

Caminar is a heart-breaking story of loss amid horrible violence.  Skila Brown has chosen to tell the story through verse, and I really like that decision.   This would be a great book to pair with Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen.