The Book Reviews – Website

January 28, 2008

Shaky Ground – Earthquakes

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Shaky Ground – Earthquakes

Author: Mary Colson

Page Length: 48

Reading Level: 5th

Genre: Non-fiction


REVIEW & AREAS FOR TEACHING: Turbulent Planet Shaky Ground: Earthquakes is another in a line of disaster books authored by Mary Colson. What immediately catches the reader’s attention are the shocking and mesmerizing photos throughout the book. Section titles, vocabulary definitions along the bottom of the page, fact boxes, diagrams, and maps are excellent teaching and learning tools available on almost every page. This book is packed with information on everything from famous earthquakes, historical perspectives , the science of why and how earthquakes occur,  the steps rescuers take, and the probability of future earthquakes as well as a look at contributing factors.  This book is a fascinating, engaging, page turning read!


Teachers would find this a great book for going over just about any concept including: context clues, main idea, supporting details, causes and effects, part to whole relationships, sequencing, classifying, and much more. Having no experience with earthquakes personally, what I found most fascinating was the incredible photos and the real life accounts. On page 24, Stephani describes her experience stating, “I was fast asleep in bed. Suddenly, my whole body went flying upward. As I landed, heavy things fell on top of me. I thought I was being attacked. Everything was smashing up and down all over the room. I felt total fear.”


Students are taught the six steps to survival, necessary items for a typical earthquake survival pack, and the necessity for preparation and preparedness. The text even details how Japan practices annually by instituting a country wide drill to practice evacuation procedures in the event of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. A captivating picture of Japanese students wearing protective hats really drives the point home. The text concludes with a list of other sources, valuable search tips and keywords, and an organization contact list.


RELATED WEBSITES:  (quiz and java enabled rotating globe),1082,0_583_,00.html


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


January 3, 2008

Earth Erupts: Volcanoes

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Earth Erupts: Volcanoes

Author: Mary Colson

Page Length: 48 (including glossary and index)

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Non-fiction


REVIEW & AREAS FOR TEACHING: These books are excellent teaching tools no matter what grade level they are being utilized with. Non-fiction sources don’t get much better than this. The graphics are superb, the interesting facts fascinating, and the breakdown of the material is wonderful (it’s a shame science textbooks aren’t written in this format).


The book is divided into 8 chapters. Each chapter contains photos with captions, quotes from spectators or scientists who have witnessed a volcanic event, hot words and hot facts about the topic. Thinking Maps would be excellent tools for breaking down and analyzing the information provided in the Colson texts. Page 8 even begins with a flow map of how a volcano erupts. Each set of pages contains so much information that several readings may be required. These books would also be excellent tools for group work and addressing individual skills.


Colson begins by explaining the beauty and danger of a volcano. She delves into the earth to reveal where volcanoes come from and why they explode. The reader learns about ancient history and how the Romans and even the Hawaiians have believed that volcanoes stemmed from their gods and goddesses.  Next, Colson details the science of volcanoes by examining the composition of the earth and plate tectonics. She details the three types of volcanoes (an excellent tree map) and the VEI, Volcanic Explosivity Index. She goes on to examine famous volcanoes both past and present and to pose the question: when and where will the next big eruption be and what will be the devastating effects? Eruption styles are detailed (another great tree map). Life after an eruption is examined; and, as in every Colson books, safety tips are detailed. The book concludes with for organizations and search tips for finding out more. The last two pages contain a glossary and an index.




REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


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