Wednesday, October 1, 2014

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Sequoia by Tony Johnston & Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch


Standing tall above the tree line, Sequoia stretches his ancient arms and gathers clouds to him. He watches as days, seasons, years pass by. His branches are home to owls and choirs of frogs. Beneath his broad canopy, a world grows.This is his story. Through controlled verse and luscious illustration, Tony Johnston and Wendell Minor do justice to the enormous figure of the sequoia tree.


Amazingly beautiful book! The poetry is beautiful and the illustrations stand out in every way.  I admit that I"m a huge fan of the glowing, almost dreamy like illustration style of Wendell Minor. I've loved every by him that I've ever seen so when I heard about this book I knew I had to get it.  Minor shows the reader many different perspectives on this most magnificent of trees.  He shows the canopy, individual branches, views of the trunk and the animals that live there.  He even has a picture where the reader appears to be looking up at the tree from its base.  The back end paper is especially powerful as it shows two children standing at the base of a sequoia, it provides the reader with a glimpse of just how huge these trees really all. The poem is beautiful too as it takes the reader through each of the four seasons through the experiences of one sequoia tree.  The imagery is vivid and inspiring.


Volcanoes are a scary, catastrophic phenomenon that creates mass destruction as far as its deadly lava can reach, right? Not quite . . .

Elizabeth Rusch explores volcanoes in their entirety, explaining how they’re not all as bad as they’re made out to be. Using examples of real volcanoes from around the world, Rusch explains how some volcanoes create new land, mountains, and islands where none existed before, and how the ash helps farmers fertilize their fields. Simple, straight-forward prose provides readers with the basics, while a secondary layer of text delves deeper into the science of volcanoes. Susan Swan’s bright and explosive mixed-media illustrations perfectly complement the subject matter—they depict volcanoes in all their destructive and creative glory.

Complete with a glossary and list of further resources, VOLCANO RISING is a unique look at a fierce, yet valuable, scientific process.


Generally when I read about volcanoes the focus is on the incredible destructive force they manifest, but in this book, Volcano Rising, the focus is on what the author calls creative eruptions.  She uses this term to refer to slower erupting volcanoes that add land or slowly change the landscape over time.  The information provided here is fascinating for young and old alike.  I especially appreciated the longer sections that provide specific information about individual volcanoes and their unique characteristics. I also found the account of how people have tried to stop creative eruptions but have been unable to do so.

For this kind of nonfiction book, I normally prefer photographs, but the illustrations in this book are so well done that it doesn't matter that they aren't photos.  The illustrator does a fabulous job of showing the chaos that volcanoes cause and yet how amazingly beautiful they can be as well.  The settings also vary a great deal.  The reader travels from tropical islands to continents to undersea volcanoes giving a glimpse of the incredible variety that exists in terms of setting and volcanic characteristics.

A beautiful book that would make a great addition to any volcano loving young reader's library.


  1. The illustrations for Volcano Rising look amazing. They both look like excellent finds.

  2. Sequioa sounds like a gorgeous book. We're currently compiling a bibliography of tree-themed stories and will definitely add this one to the list.


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