The Bergers present another solid and readable title in the Question and Answer Series, giving brief answers to tough questions about volcanoes and earthquakes: Where do they occur? What causes them? How do we measure them? Can we predict them? Do all volcanoes look alike? How often do earthquakes occur? Competent illustrations extend the text throughout, showing the reader the difference between a crater and a caldera, for instance, or mapping major plates of the earth’s crust, and illustrating three kinds of volcanoes and three different types of eruptions. There are the predictable “disaster” illustrations, as well: San Francisco on fire in 1906 and earthquake damage in Alaska in 1964. One minor concern with the format is that some of the questions appearing in red type on a blue background are hard to read. The brief text is factual and somewhat understated. For example, the authors say, “Number 1 on the Richter scale can be seen on a seismograph, but can’t be felt. Number 5 on the Richter scale is about as powerful as the explosion of a nuclear bomb. Anything over 8 means total destruction, usually with much loss of life.” They do not explain, however, that an increase of one whole number on the scale indicates a ten-fold increase in the magnitude of the quake. Nor do they make clear how a nuclear bomb causes less than total destruction. No sources or notes are given for the information included. Still, there’s a lot of information in this glossily bound package. With the glowing red volcano on the cover, clear white spaces, snappy question-and-answer format, and brief index, this title will have wide appeal for science readers and browsers. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-09580-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000


Miranda’s book counts the monsters gathering at a birthday party, while a simple rhyming text keeps the tally and surveys the action: “Seven starved monsters are licking the dishes./Eight blow out candles and make birthday wishes.” The counting proceeds to ten, then by tens to fifty, then gradually returns to one, which makes the monster’s mother, a purple pin-headed octopus, very happy. The book is surprisingly effective due to Powell’s artwork; the color has texture and density, as if it were poured onto the page, but the real attention-getter is the singularity of every monster attendee. They are highly individual and, therefore, eminently countable. As the numbers start crawling upward, it is both fun and a challenge to try to recognize monsters who have appeared in previous pages, or to attempt to stay focused when counting the swirling or bunched creatures. The story has glints of humor, and in combination with the illustrations is a grand addition to the counting shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201835-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999


Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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