Thought you knew all about volcanoes? Think again!

Most people believe volcanoes—WHAM! POW! KA-BOOM!—destroy everything around them. But volcanoes can be creative, too. They grow new mountains. They create land where there was none before. They even sprout islands.

Dramatic, eye-opening stories of the eight volcanoes in this book bring to life an amazing part of volcanology that has been overlooked in the media and in children's books—how volcanoes grow and shape the landscape. In Mexico, a volcano emerges in a field before a farmer's eyes. In Tonga, underwater volcanoes make new islands. In our backyard and across the globe, volcanoes that blow their tops grow them right back again.

Illustrations by Susan Swan

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Year Published: August 1, 2013

ISBN-10: 1580894097
ISBN-13: 978-1580894098

~ Oregon Spirit Award winner ~

~ NSTA Outstanding Science Tradebook ~

~ Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year, 2014 ~

~ CCBC Choice 2014 ~

~ Towner Award nominee (Washington State's children's choice award) ~

~ Junior Library Guild selection ~

~ Children’s Book of the Month Club selection ~


“Gorgeous,” KIRKUS

Blowing their tops off, growing taller and wider, and forming new mountains and islands, volcanoes can be both destructive and creative. Extraordinary illustrations complement this description of eight extraordinary Earth events.

A dual-level narrative provides both a simple explanation of how volcanoes work and longer paragraphs that go into greater depth. Rusch offers as examples eight volcanoes from around the world. From barely perceptible swellings of the land in central Oregon to a whole new island in Iceland and the vast caldera left by explosions in the Yellowstone area, the variety of volcanic activities may surprise readers.

The text is set on gorgeous full-bleed images, sometimes realistic and sometimes allusive. Swan has digitally manipulated collages of found objects, textures and hand-painted papers, putting them together in ways that suggest the varied scenery of her examples. Palm trees, puffins and people give depth to vast landscapes. The colors are particularly striking: jade and turquoise waters, red and orange magma and hot lava, shades of gray and brown for the ash. In her read-aloud text, Rusch makes plentiful use of onomatopoetic words: “Pow!” “Hisssss!” “Gurgle,” “Tssss.” The fuller explanations introduce, define and, when necessary, offer a suggested pronunciation for more technical words: pahoehoe (a kind of cooled lava surface), tephra, lava bombs.

A clever and appealing introduction to a remarkable natural phenomenon.

“Magnificent,” THE HORN BOOK
Rusch introduces readers to a variety of volcanoes, volcanic eruption mechanisms, and the scientific terminology used to describe them. The book opens with an impressive explosive eruption—a magnificent mixed-media illustration shows a volcanic vent gushing steam, rock, and lava. The author then directly confronts a common misconception: “Volcanoes are not just destructive. Much more often, volcanoes are creative.” Profiles of eight historical and currently active volcanoes around the world illustrate how volcanic eruptions create new land, islands, and mountains. Each spread includes one sentence in large type that provides general information (sometimes including catchy, volcano-like onomatopoeia: “KABAM-BAM-BOOM!”). Smaller-type paragraphs below both employ scientific vocabulary (some of these words are just as much fun to pronounce) and provide detailed background on the science and societal impacts of volcanic activity. DANIELLE J. FORD

"An eye-popping riot of action, sound, color and information," BOOKLIST

In Rusch’s third book on volcanoes, she is joined by Swan, and the two have created an eye-popping riot of action, sound, color, and information to convey the energy and impact of volcanoes. Portions of the text are written for younger readers, while the more detailed, thorough explanatory passages (in a slightly smaller font) are approachable for older readers or through adult assistance. Rusch describes both “creative” and “destructive” volcanoes, but spends more time explaining the creative ones and their environments. Swan’s provocative found-objects-meet-digital-painting art is a wild, invigorating explosion (so to speak) of lines and colors. But it’s not overwhelming; the labels of the lava, magma, and varied strata of volcanoes expand the understanding. A smart and visceral introduction to the topic—and the pronunciation help within the text is nice, too.
--J. B. Petty

“Vibrant and stunning,” SHELF-EMPLOYED
When kids think of volcanoes, they likely think of the awesome destructive power of famous volcanoes past and present – Mount Vesuvius, Krakatoa, Mount St. Helens, Mount Etna, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa. However, if you've ever read James Michener's epic novel, Hawaii, or traveled to Hawaii, you know of the incredible creative power of volcanoes. Each of the Hawaiian Islands was created by a volcano, its molten lava rising, spreading, cooling, hardening, and eventually creating the Hawaiian Island chain with its famous black sand beaches.

Volcano Rising focuses on this unique and often unheralded aspect of volcanoes, giving examples of various ways in which volcanoes may have "creative eruptions." A particularly helpful aspect of the book is its duality as a read-aloud for younger children and a more detailed text for independent readers. In white or black text against double-spread illustrations, large text is aimed at a read-aloud audience, while smaller text delves deeper.

Often an artistically illustrated nonfiction book lacks the punch of a photographic one, but not in Volcano Rising. Because the focus of the book is the process rather than the explosion, the colorfully inventive collage art of Susan Swan is perfectly suited to the text, helping to define the concept of creative eruptions in an art form created by manipulating found objects, hand-painted papers and scans of objects and textures in Adobe Photoshop to create new patterns, adding digital paintings; and then collaging the two together. The effect is vibrant and stunning.


Rusch offers a twin-sided look at the power of volcanoes–their capability for destruction, and, surprisingly, of creation. Her informative text continues the split in personality with, on one side, an easy sentence or two dramatically describing eruptions with a heavily accented “POW!” or “SPURT.” On the other is a longer, more complex paragraph giving further data for older readers or for teachers and homeschooling parents. Included are such topics as the Yellowstone supervolcano, the emergence of undersea volcanoes, and the creation of Paricutín in a Mexican cornfield. All of this information is placed on a backdrop of Swan's dramatic artwork, a combination of hand-painted papers, digital paintings, and Photoshop scans that include a puffin taking off from the sea near Surtsey and Kilauea's pahoehoe lava flowing violently into the cold Pacific waters. Pair this book with Lisa Westberg Peters's Volcano Wakes Up! (Holt, 2010) for a lava-full celebration of vulcanology.
–-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

“The perfect mix of fact and gorgeous illustrations,” IN THE KNOW MOM
Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch is my (and my daughter’s) favorite book right now. This book based on real-life volcanoes takes a different view, not the typical scary, catastrophe angle. This book is all about the incredible creations volcanoes make: new land, islands, mountains. Sure, volcanoes can be disastrous, but we already know that. What most of us don’t know, and why amateur volcanologist and writer Elizabeth Rusch is worth a read, are the names and stories of volcanoes around the globe.

Volcano Rising is the perfect mix of facts and gorgeous illustrations from Susan Swan. The dynamic duo achieve what they set out to do — produce a book kids will both learn from and enjoy. I learned a lot myself about historical volcanic eruptions (creative ones). I also learned that Iceland, where a volcano is constantly growing the country in size, has a very strange language (to this American). Thank goodness Rusch adds pronunciations where needed!

My daughter is looking at volcanoes in a whole new way, more of an awe than a fear…

…In contrast, Volcano Rising, illustrated by Susan Swan, is a children’s picture book for ages 6 to 9 that explains not only what volcanoes are, but also how volcanoes can be a positive force by creating new land and adding nutrients to the soil.

Perhaps too often we focus on the sensational, explosive aspects of volcanoes. In this book, Rusch presents an alternative way of looking at volcanoes that is both age-appropriate and more informative because it presents are more rounded, less dramatized view.

Looking for information on volcanoes? Wanting to learn more about the science and scientists behind volcano eruption predictions? Elizabeth Rusch has the books for you!



“Fabulous…A rare informational text that can be shared with several grade levels…Find this book and add it to your science collection.”


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'aand 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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