PRAISE AND REVIEWS FOR ELIZABETH RUSCH’S WILL IT BLOW?
“Elizabeth Rusch's humor-spiced Will It Blow? takes youngsters on a geologic adventure that both entertains and informs. Though aimed at younger readers, adults also will delight in learning more about volcanoes and the scientists who study them in this witty, engaging book.”
-- Richard Hill, science writer for the Oregonian
“Part comic book, part scrapbook, part puzzle book, Will It Blow? is so much fun that kids won’t even realize how much they’re learning. This book should be legally required for all kids studying geology.”
-- Kristin Hostetter, Gear Editor, Backpacker Magazine
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Read this fabulous book! Will It Blow? enlists readers in the “Department of Volcanic Investigation” and sends them off to infiltrate the scientific mysteries of Mount St. Helens. Along the way they’ll be debriefed by experts and have a chance to sharpen their sleuthing skills as they learn how to decode the clues that could help predict the next eruption of North America’s most active volcano. Double-oh-fun for aspiring volcano detectives of any age.”
-- Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the popular Spy Mice series
“This charming book draws young science sleuths into one of geology's greatest mysteries - the inner workings of a volcano. Author Elizabeth Rusch uses real scientists as guides, and lays out the clues they used to predict what Mount St. Helens would do when the Northwest's most explosive volcano reawakened in 2004. Unlike many children's authors, she doesn't gloss over the uncertainty and confusion geologists face as they try to figure out what's going on miles below the surface and what it might mean to people who live near a volcano.
“Will it Blow? captures the excitement and urgency of vulcanology and the hands-on challenges of the science. Let's hope it inspires a new generation of geologists to learn more about what makes volcanoes tick and how to better predict when the ticking bomb is about to go off.”
-- Sandi Doughton, science reporter, Seattle Times
“What do M&Ms, gophers and soda straws have in common? They’re all clever analogies author Elizabeth Rusch uses to explain the inner-workings of nature’s smokestacks. Will It Blow? deals with this complex and important topic in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. The book really brings to life the struggles scientists face when trying to predict whether a volcano will erupt quietly or explosively. What an enjoyable and informative book! Even after covering volcanoes for many years, I learned something.”
–- Andre Stepankowsky, the Longview Daily News, winner of a Pulitzer for coverage of Mount St. Helens’ 1980 eruption
by Amy Brozio-Andrews
Empowering young readers to do a little detective work on their own, Elizabeth Rusch's Will It Blow? Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens takes kids behind the scenes of vulcanology with a real-world example that's still relevant, and will be in their world for years to come. She lays out the violent history of Mount St. Helens, the current efforts to monitor the mountain and predict future eruptions, and challenges her readers along the way to see if their reading of the facts matches the scientists' conclusions.
Organized like a training dossier for a private detective, the reader is introduced to the "suspect," Washington State's Mount St. Helens. A brief history of the volcano's existence and past activity, from steam eruptions to spews of ash, rock, and gas, lava flows to mudflows, gives kids get a crash course in the geologic basics. The events leading up to the 1980 eruption are also described. Subsequent chapters outline the primary elements of volcano science, from collecting seismograph readings of earthquakes to monitoring the release of gases from the volcano, physical monitoring and measurements of changes in the mountain's appearance to monitoring lava flow within the mountain with special infrared equipment, and the collection and evaluation of volcanic rocks.
After each chapter, Rush includes related activities for kids that illustrate and support the text. Each clearly lists the needed items and easy-to-follow instructions that require minimal adult help. For example, after talking about the different types of lava flow, kids can pour a spoonful of honey, cooking oil, and pancake syrup onto a pan, and then tilt the pan to see how each substance flows in terms of speed and direction. Each chapter concludes with a recounting of events related to that topic (i.e., reading seismographs from mountain earthquakes) that have occurred within the last few years, asking readers to make the determination about the likelihood of a new eruption. Turning the page reveals the scientists' call, the book concluding with the still-active mountain continuing to erupt beyond most scientists' expectations.
Heavily illustrated with K.E. Lewis' artwork as well as photographs from Mount St. Helens, the book presents hard-core geology in a manner that's easily understandable by young readers. Rusch's writing style is really informal yet informative. She relies on expert opinion and experience to relate her tale of Mount St. Helens, talking to professionals in the field studying this volcano in particular. Real examples -- equipment readings, photographs, etc. -- make the topic come alive, and Rusch's own enthusiasm and passion for the topic is pretty much contagious. Formatting her book like that of a PI's file ratchets up the tension and suspense -- even I was wondering what happens next when reading the book (and I remember the 1980 eruption). Rounding out her book by directing readers to additional print and web resources, Will It Blow? is a great choice for young science enthusiasts.
OPEN WIDE LOOK INSIDE
Outstanding Science Picturebooks
Yesterday I posted the results of the BCCB Blue Ribbon Awards in Nonfiction. While I found the selected books to be excellent choices, I was more than a little disappointed that not one science book made the list. I was also disturbed to read this statement regarding the selection of this year’s choices.
Then we turned our gaze to our sparse field of nonfiction and decided that we’d rather sacrifice list length than standards.
Sparse? They’re kidding, right?
I’ve decided to correct this HUGE oversight by naming my own award winners for science. Using the categories and criteria the NSTA uses each year in selecting the books that appear on its list of outstanding trade books for science, I have reviewed the books in my teaching collection and come up with a list of my own. The criteria are:
• The book has substantial science content.
• Information is clear, accurate, and up-to-date.
• Theories and facts are clearly distinguished.
• Generalizations are supported by facts, and significant facts are not omitted.
• Books are free of gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic bias.
So, without further ado, here are my choices for the best science books for children and young adults (K-12) published in 2007.
Will It Blow? Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens by Elizabeth Rusch - “Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to predict a Mount St. Helens eruption.” With cartoon drawings, hands-on experiments, lots of clues (science explanations and diagrams), this is one entertaining and informative book on volcanoes. Also included are a vocabulary list and list of related books and web sites.
Book description: Will Mount St. Helens BLOW? When? Will it erupt ash? Spit lava? Unleash a deadly mudflow? These are the mysteries that scientists at Mount St. Helens must solve. Now you can be a volcano detective, sifting through evidence like rumbling earthquakes, smelly gases, strange bulges on the Earth's surface, and more!
I LOVE books like these and they are perfect for the age group! These are the kind of books I gobbled up as an 8 - 10 year old. I love the facts, the thinking it provokes, the curiosity it woos. My ten-year old son will absolutely devour this and follow me around for days wowing me with all he learns.
by Alice Herold
Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens, by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by K.E. Lewis, is a fascinating book about Mount St. Helens. The book is packed full of informative facts yet presented in a way that is appealing to elementary and middle school students.
The reader is asked to predict if and when the volcano will erupt again. The information is presented in the form of cases to be solved. For example, in Case #1 the reader (detective) is asked to consider if there are shallow earthquakes greater than 1.0 and if there is more than one earthquake per day. In Case #2, the reader must look for evidence of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide.
The teacher in me loved the experiments interspersed throughout the book such as making a soda bottle volcano and competing in lava races with pancake syrup, cooking oil, and honey.
The illustrator, K.E. Lewis, provides illustrations in the form of cartoons which reminded me of Roy Lichtenstein's work. Real photographs of the stages of an eruption are included in the book.
The book ends with a glossary of terms, websites, and a list of books related to the subject. An empty page is included for the "detective" to make notes.
Will It Blow? is a wonderful non-fiction book. It's informative, educational, entertaining, well-written and illustrated. Thank you, Elizabeth Rusch and K.E. Lewis!
EMBRACING THE CHILD
Mount St. Helens is a master of disguises, adept at sending out false clues. Can anyone figure out what's going on with this active volcano in Washington State? This illustrated book presents a wealth of easily digested information - covering underground gases, earthquakes, infrared measurements, bumps on earth's surface, and other factors - to help the budding Sherlock Holmes crack the case. With sidebars about the latest gadgets and gizmos, youngsters learn about volcanology while having fun.
For kids 8 and up, there's Will It Blow? Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens, ($13.95, Sasquatch Books, Seattle) also written by Ms. Rusch, but illustrated by K.E. Lewis. This book challenges young readers to solve the mysteries surrounding that volcano's eruption. Timely, indeed, because Mt. St. Helens has rumbled back to life since 2004, building a lava dome higher than the Empire State Building. It's more than just geology and science, it's fun!
Readers of this book are encouraged to solve the mysteries surrounding the latest eruption of Mount St. Helens. Based on interviews with USGS scientists, the book includes quotes from volcano detectives and fun, hands-on activities.
[My daughter] also really enjoyed Will it Blow: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens. It has great photographs as well as sidebars and cartoon drawings explaining the ins and outs of volcanic eruptions.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
By Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
This book challenges readers to become volcanic-eruption predictors. Using Mt. St. Helens and its spectacular 1980 eruption as well as other smaller eruptions there as “the suspect,” a variety of clues-on temperature, ground deformation, etc. – are presented, and their significance to the pre-1980 mountain is explained. Finally, scenarios describe other, smaller volcanic events on Mt. St. Helens, and detective-readers are asked to deduce from the conditions whether an explosion happened or not. A concluding page in each chapter gives the answer. The text is breezy, its light humor masking the fact that it is packed with information. Each chapter contains an easy experiment, ranging from creating a soda-bottle eruption to acting as a “human seismograph,” that’s suitable for science projects or classroom use. Cartoons and color photographs keep step with the text, and green topic boxes (explaining how scientists collect rocks from inside a crater, how they measure telltale gases in the air, and more) are liberally sprinkled throughout. Team this with titles like Melve and Hilda Berger’s Why Do Volcanoes Blow Their Tops? (Scholastic, 2000), Donna O’Meara’s personal Into the Volcano (Kids Can, 2005), and/or Chris Hayhurts’s Volcanologists (Rosen, 2003) for expanded use of this work describing a real-life volcano, its geological messages, and the scientists who decipher the language of the Earth to predict the next blast.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
Students can become volcanologists using this fact-filled series of mysteries and volcano-related experiments. Rusch describes the physical phenomena that preceded the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and asks readers to use that knowledge to predict whether conditions on the mountain at other times resulted in an eruption or not. The unusual perspective and exciting photographs and cartoon illustrations enliven the plentiful scientific explanations.