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When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis

by Simon Winchester

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Winchester, a journalist and former geologist, examines earth-shaking phenomena. In the opening pages, the author discusses his experience on a university research team that confirmed the key scientific theory of continental drift; his powerful writing conveys the excitement of discovery. After this first chapter, descriptions of earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis are told in the third person. This contrast between personal narrative and straightforward factual writing is incredibly effective and makes the book an excellent mentor text for demonstrating the differences among various narrative styles. The visuals, too, are strong. Spectacular photographs are included, such as an aerial view of the San Andreas fault and images of the devastation following the 2004 tsunami. A reproduction of Edvard Munch's The Scream is included, and Winchester explains that the vivid sunset that the artist portrayed was caused by dust from the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa. There are several diagrams of cross-cuts of the rock formations found below the surface of the earth (with simple yet thorough captions). Information about the Richter scale and a similar scale that describes volcanos' intensity are also incorporated. The in-depth index is outstanding. An afterword warns readers of the importance of protecting the planet, and Winchester closes with the words "We inhabit this planet subject to geological consent-which can be withdrawn at any time, and without notice." VERDICT A must-buy for libraries serving middle school, this title works both as a basic overview of earth science and as a fine example of how to incorporate personal narrative into nonfiction.-Amy Thurow, New Glarus School District, WI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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