________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover Our Powerful Planet: The Curious Kid's Guide to Tornadoes, Earthquakes, and Other Phenomena.

Tim O'Shei. Illustrated by Karl Edwards.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-91-9.

Subject Heading:
Natural disasters-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

***½ /4


In fact, the icy build-up is called the same thing — "glaze." But this glaze isn't sweet. It takes only a quarter-inch of ice to freeze over car windshields and make roads dangerous. Meteorologists label this amount of ice a "nuisance." Between a quarter-inch and half-inch of ice — what meteorologists call "disruptive" — will make tree limbs hang low enough to pull down some power lines and cause electrical outages. Meteorologists call a half-inch of ice or more "crippling." Limbs from even the largest trees will snap and fall and tangle with the power lines. Roads will be nearly impossible to travel. Think about it: all that damage comes from a layer of ice only as thick as the width of your thumb.


Colourful endpapers — a collage of photos of extreme weather — entice readers and draw them into this wonderful book about nature's most powerful phenomena and the changes in Earth's environment that have been affecting them in recent years. Following the introduction, the book is divided into three main sections — air phenomena, land phenomena and water phenomena. The focus of the section on air phenomena is thunderstorms, lightning, hurricanes, floods and ice storms — their formation and the damage that they can cause. Land phenomena include earthquakes and volcanoes, while the section on water phenomena concentrates on tsunamis.

     Four cartoon symbols appear frequently throughout the text, each one representing a different text box. The "Did You Know?" text box provides additional information about the featured topic; "Phenomenal Facts" presents amazing, but true, facts about specific phenomena. Some examples are the 15-inch snowflakes (about the size of a large pizza) that fell in Montana in 1887 and the volleyball-sized hail that fell in Nebraska in 2003, the largest hail ever recorded in North America. Another icon, one representing "Global Warming," provides facts about climate change related to the topic, and "Power Punch" explains how strong the phenomenon can be. (In this latter example, there is a small typographical error: the text states that the lowest temperature ever recorded was 129° F; it should read -129° F.)

     The book's conclusion discusses the importance of a family safety plan in areas affected by extreme weather. It also talks about the need for kids to spread the word about global warming and to get involved with community efforts, such as clothing and food drives, to help people who have been affected by natural disasters.

     The main body of the text is dark blue in colour, a colour choice which might be distracting for some readers. It is also fairly crowded, though the use of the four symbols with the text boxes does break up the blue text quite effectively. Excellent colour diagrams, maps and photographs serve to further explain the concepts. A table of contents and a word list are provided.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.