________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005


Into the Volcano: A Volcano Researcher at Work.

Donna O’Meara. Photographs by Stephen and Donna O’Meara.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
56 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-692-7.

Subject Headings:
Volcanoes-Juvenile literature.
O’Meara, Donna, 1954- Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


Just after 5:00 AM the whole world seemed to explode. Arenal shot out a giant black cloud streaked with fire. Chunks of glowing rocks the size of refrigerators were tossed high into the air and came crashing down the mountain toward the observatory. Volcanic thunder boomed so loudly it rattled the windowpane. In the forest, birds screeched and howler monkeys barked like mad dogs.


Into the Volcano is definitely not just another volcano book! Written in the first person, this book takes readers on a tour of several of the most active volcanoes on Earth. O’Meara’s fascination with volcanoes began when she went back to college at age 32. Her professor, whom she later married, opened her eyes to geology, and more specifically, volcanism. The husband and wife team has since travelled the world, testing Steve’s theories on the moon’s relationship to volcanic activity, walking on all types of volcanoes, and making several TV documentaries about their research. The majority of the text is O’Meara’s account of her life’s work and the often risky adventures she has undertaken, all in the name of science. Her travels to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Italy and other areas have provided her and her exploration team with a wealth of knowledge and a thirst for even more. “Explosive Facts” boxes list the name, location and type of volcano featured in each chapter along with the volcano’s status, height and the known number of people killed. Large sidebars give readers additional information about volcano types and their formation, types of lava, pyroclastic flows, the VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) which estimates the strength of the eruption on a scale of zero to eight, a volcanologist’s gear, and the various flora and fauna that live on volcanoes. The O’Mearas have founded Volcano Watch International whose mission is to study the Earth’s active volcanoes so that catastrophic eruptions can be predicted and people’s lives saved.

     What comes through loud and clear in the text is O’Meara’s passion for her work. She explains scientific concepts simply, in kid-friendly language; her enthusiasm and her reverence for the powerful forces of nature are contagious. Diagrams and absolutely stunning photographs are bound to captivate readers of all ages. Some of the photos show O’Meara, dressed in full volcanologist gear, standing on a volcano, taking pictures of lava as it flows into the ocean. Others show glowing orange lava lakes the size of two football fields, empty lava tubes, pahoehoe lava flowing across a road, giant plumes of ash, rock and debris and lava bombs, to name just a few. Each of the photos seems more spectacular than the one before it. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are provided.

     Dramatic and riveting, this book really has the “wow” factor.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird’s Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.