Friday, February 16, 2024

Books that Explore Volcanoes

 There are so many ways to explore volcanoes: you could hike up a dormant volcano (there are plenty hanging around North America), or fly over an active volcano. There are also plenty of ways to share your volcano discoveries: you could paint pictures, take photos, write poetry, film a video. Here are two books that take different paths up a volcano.

theme: volcanoes, geology, nature

Climbing the Volcano: A Journey in Haiku 
by Curtis Manley; illus. by Jennifer K. Mann 
48 pages; ages 4-8
Neal Porter Books, 2024

dormant volcano—
but at sunrise each day
it blazes

This book is an adventure story. Author, Curtis Manley shares a “there and back again” tale in which a family hikes up Oregon’s South Sister volcano. Along the way, we discover tiny toads, a trail of pawprints through the snow, butterflies … and what the world looks like from a raven’s point of view. 

What I like about this book: The entire story is told through a series of haiku – small snapshots of the journey. The journey extends over the course of a day, and also through different ecosystems as the family climbs above treeline. There is also back matter: more information about the South Sister volcano; things to carry with you on a mountain hike; a visual guide to the plants and animals observed along the way; and a bit about what haiku is and how you can try to write your own. They may be short, notes Curtis, but they are powerful. Also, did I mention the illustrations? They are marvelous! Make sure you peek under the dust jacket so you can see the ”undies.”

I can’t believe that I’ve had this book lost in my book basket for two years! (That’s what happens sometimes when they come as F&Gs … they are very “slouchy” and easy to lose track of) 

by Gail Gibbons 
32 pages; ages 4-8
‎Holiday House, 2022

The ground begins to rumble. Loud roars, hissing, and violent blasts are coming from deep inside the Earth. Suddenly ….

Ash, lava, rocks, and steam shoot into the air! We’ve got a volcano. Author Gail Gibbons introduces children to the inner earth layers, and what happens when a volcano breaks through the crust. Bold, bright colors will entice children to linger over the illustrations.

What I like about this book: One thing Gail does in her books is show the details. In this one she shows the tools and equipment volcanologists use as they study the volcano, maps of the tectonic plates, and an inside look at how a volcano forms. I like that she includes a list of what to do when there’s a volcano warning and an introduction to famous volcanoes. This book is so fact-filled there is no need for back matter. 

Beyond the Books:

Tour a volcano – above and inside! You can do this safely with this National Geographic video 

Create and map a volcano. Here’s a NASA video that shows how.

Last year, Lestie Barnard Booth shared her field trip to the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland. You can read it here. And here is the CBS 60 Minutes video about it.

Climb a volcano – if you don’t have one nearby, hike up a mountain. What plants and animals do you see on your hike? What do you hear? What does the world look like from the top? Share what you discover by writing your own haiku or drawing a picture.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. What an interesting structure to use. I love how poetry and STEM work so well together. It really cuts to the essence of the thing being featured.

  2. Love this book! Great pairing with Gail's book.