________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002

cover When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island.

Celia Godkin.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
38 pp., cloth, $21.95.
ISBN 1-55041-683-9.

Subject Heading:
Volcanoes-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Val Nielsen.

*** /4


Award winning illustrator Celia Godkin's latest information story book is a visually stunning contribution to this genre. When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island tells the story of a small island in the Pacific where animals, plants and people live an idyllic existence, in perfect harmony with each other. There is a shadow hanging over these gentle smiling people, however.

Over all the peaceful island
towered a great,
cone shaped mountain.
Most of the time it was quiet,
but sometimes
it let out a puff of smoke
or rumbled like a giant
mumbling in his sleep.

internal art

     When this giant stirs, the people take flowers and offer up prayers to put the mountain god back to sleep. One day, however, despite the villagers efforts, the mountain continues to rumble, belching out black smoke and sending down a rain of cinders. After watching the birds leave the island, the chief gathers the people together and tells them it is time to leave their home. The islanders hurriedly load their possessions into boats and head across the sea to find another island on which to live. They have barely reached their new island when they hear the volcano's explosion and must scramble up the mountainside to escape the great tidal wave which engulfs the beach below them. The people, safe in their new home, begin to build a new village.

     The story of the island is not over, however. From a smoking ruin where not a single living creature survives, the process of restoration begins. New life gradually begins to stir, as slowly but surely, time and nature complete the cycle from destruction to creation. Godkin's simple poetic text is graceful and dignified. It will be easily read and understood by readers of eight and older. Her lush oil paintings depicting the people and their island paradise will be appreciated by readers of all ages. The author has provided older readers with a wealth of background information on volcanic islands and on island peoples of the Pacific Ocean which appears on the beginning and end papers. Teachers will find Godkin's combination of bold and eye-filling illustrations interspersed with story-like narrative and information particularly appealing to younger students.

     When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island will be a welcome addition to the elementary school library collection of information books on natural disasters.


Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, 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