I Lava This One!

Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving People, by Elizabeth Rusch; photographs by Tom Uhlman (2013)

Opening line: “On the northern tip of the Andes Mountains in Colombia, the majestic Nevado del Ruis rises 17,680 feet (5,389 meters) into the sky, its summit draped year-round with snow and ice.”

In this first line we get to meet one of our major characters of Eruption!: a terrifying volcano. There are several more profiled in this volume of the Scientists in the Field series (my favorite science non-fiction series for middle schoolers), each of them more terrible than the last. When this particular giant erupted in 1985, it ended up killing 23,000 people before all was said and done, destroying multiple villages in its path. Today, scientists around the globe are working to prevent such atrocities by developing ways to help predict such explosions, helping to get people out of the way of the ash, molten rock, and mudslides in time, but with more than 1 billion people living in these danger zones, this is quite a task.

I can’t ever say enough about this series of books. I love each and every one of them I read. They engage me with ideas (animals, catastrophes, world problems) I know little about and bring them to life with such drama, incredible photographs, and real human stories. They show that the term “scientist” is incredibly varied and there are all sorts of jobs students could grow up to have, including ones that haven’t been dreamed up yet. It also helps that these books are always under 100 pages, making them approachable, despite being CHOCK full of new information. Gosh I love them. If I see the “Scientists in the Field” label on the edge of the spine, I’m probably going to buy it for my library, and I’m probably not going to regret it.

2.5 stars

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