Monday, September 29, 2008

Nonfiction Monday - An Island Grows

The Hawaiian islands, the Galapagos, Iceland, the Marianas, and more. What do these places have in common? They are all islands that are volcanic in origin. The book An Island Grows, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, tells the story of an island's formation in simple rhymed couplets.

Here is how it begins.
Deep, deep
beneath the sea . . .

Stone breaks.
Water quakes.

Magma glows.
Volcano blows.
The first double-page spread shows a calm, flat, ocean. Three-quarters of the page is sky, with only the bottom quarter showing water. When readers turn the page they find just the opposite. The view is now under the water, with the sky the setting for the verse. In beautiful collage illustrations the verse is made real. Readers see that first stone crack, with just a hint of glowing red magma. The facing page reveals another crack and waves of water reacting to the shaking earth. The magma glows page is focused on a small illustration with lots of white space surrounding it. This makes the transition to the erupting volcano even more explosive, as the page is covered with the rocks and debris shooting out of it.

As the lava flows ... an island grows. Readers see how the volcanic rock grows and is then weathered by wind and water. Soon the island begins to sprout, as seeds carried on the wind take root and grow. As plant life emerges, insects and birds arrive. As the island begins to thrive, it soon appears on a sailor's map. The island continues to grow, and soon it is settled and home to many.

Here is how it ends.
Busy island in the sea, where only water used to be.
Then, one day, not far away,

deep, beneath the sea,
a volcano blows,
and lava flows.
Another island grows.
The final page provides a more detailed description of the geology of volcanic island formation. A short biography is also included.

Everything in this book works just right. The text and illustrations come together beautifully to make this concept accessible for young readers. I highly recommend this stunning book.

Book: An Island Grows
Lola Schaefer
Cathie Felstead
Greenwillow Books
Publication Date:
40 pages
Source of Book: Personal copy purchased at a local independent bookstore.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen’s blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.


  1. Ooooh, this sounds wonderful. Heading off to put it on reserve.

  2. Tricia,

    I've read reviews of AN ISLAND GROWS before. It sounds like a wonderful book. Have you read Tony Johnston's book AN OLD SHELL: POEMS OF THE GALAPAGOS? In it, the author includes a poem entitled "The Birth of Fernandina Island." I'm sad to say I think the book is now out of print. It's a fine title to use in the science curriculum.

    I know you were posting about physical and earth science books recently. I meant to mention EARTHSHAKE: POEMS FROM THE GROUND UP by Lisa Westberg Peters. I couldn't remember if you had written a review of it. If you don't have it, I think you'll want to add it to your collection.