Monday, January 22, 2007

An Island Grows

Schaefer, Lola M. 2006. AN ISLAND GROWS. Ill. by Cathie Felstead. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0066239311 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

In less than one hundred words, this special picture book beautifully conveys--for the youngest of readers--the process by which a volcanic island takes shape and begins supporting life. Lola Schaefer narrates the geologic event in the simplest of terms: “Deep, deep/ beneath the sea . . . / Stone breaks. / Water quakes. / Magma glows. / Volcano blows.”

A large typeface, short sentences, and rhyming format make the text accessible to emerging readers, but the Schaefer’s sparse poetic language will resonate with any audience. Cathie Felstead’s vivid collages, reminiscent of Leo Lionni yet entirely new, explode in a highly stylized riot of tropical color that demands attention. Readers see the island take shape step by step. Finally, the visual sequence culminates with a folk art glimpse at island life--just as the text reminds us that the process which formed this island will be repeated. Another volcanic island is about to be formed not far away.

The book’s final page supports its nonfiction content, providing additional information on how volcanic islands grow and suggesting further reading on the subject.

During an initial reading discuss unfamiliar words. Then ask children to participate in a second reading by repeating the rhyming text. Develop hand motions to engage children and cement their understanding of any new vocabulary. Invite readers to share the story as readers theater.

Other primary books on volcanic islands or volcanoes in general:
Lessac, Frane. MY LITTLE ISLAND. ISBN 0064431460
Lewis, Thomas P. HILL OF FIRE. ISBN 0064440400
Prager, Ellen J. VOLCANO: JUMP INTO SCIENCE. ISBN 0792282019

By Suzy Parchman

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