Changing Weather

            The east coast of North Carolina was inundated with rain this past weekend—much more than usual. On an eastern peninsula jutting out along the Neuse River south of New Bern, we got 5.85” of rain from Friday, August 1st through Monday, August 4th. That’s a lot of rain! It flooded the areas behind and to the side of our house, making a lake aptly dubbed Swan Lake by our neighbors. The geese, frogs and lizards are all happy at the moment; you can’t hear yourself think if you venture out at night because of the noise.

            All the rain made me think about why the weather patterns have changed so much over the past few decades, which prompted me to present reviews of books about the environmental events on our planet.



           Being the fair-skinned, scaredy-cat that I am, lying on the beach under a broiling sun, covered with sunblock pasted with sand is not my idea of fun. And, though I like to walk along the beach at surf edge, I’m not fond of being bowled over by waves, so you’d think I’d just stay away. But, as far as I’m concerned, the best way in the world to fall asleep is being lulled by the shush of gentle surf and the salty warmth of an ocean breeze.


100 Things You Should Know about the Seashore

Steve Parker

Consultant: Camilla de la Bedoyere

            Did you know there are seashores all over the planet—from pole to pole and every where in between? Each seashore has its own ecosystem of plants and animals. Where the salty ocean meets the land affects the terrain and type of beach. This book gives brief, but good, descriptions of the various types of environments. For instance, several bits of information describe how the action of the waves eats away at the land and there is a simple experiment to try which help the reader visualize the erosion in action. The sidebars scattered through the book give extra information, but perhaps should have been titled differently—“I Don’t Believe It!” lends an air of doubt to the information. The data is divided into sections dealing with the coastal land, battle between land and sea, types of coastline, ecosystems and people’s affect on shorelines. It is our job to protect the land and sea on our planet and we’re not doing a great job. The experiments scattered through out the book are interesting and helpful. The graphics and photos are clear and helpful, making the book a useful tool in tweaking students’ interest in marine studies, but bibliography, even a short one, would help. This is one of fifteen “100 Things You Should Know…” books exploring various subjects, including mythology and legends.

BIBLIO: 2011 (orig. 2010,) Mason Crest Publishers Inc., Ages 8 to 12, $19.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan;

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-1-4222-2006-1

ISBN: 978-1-4222-1993-5


            When we lived in Jacksonville, Alabama, the main shopping town was about 10 miles away. The highway to it was a straight shot to Anniston, but we had to pass south of Pell City—tornado central for the part of Alabama. One summer evening I was driving our four children to Anniston during a thunderstorm and just as we passed south of Pell City, the sky turned solar-eclipse black and what sounded like a high-speed train roared overhead. Sure enough, the next thing we heard on the radio was that Pell City had been by yet another tornado. That’s as close as I ever want to get to one.

Anatomy of a Tornado

Terri Dougherty

            The natural world of our planet is capable of many awe-inspiring, fearful events and a tornado is among the most amazing occurrences. This book is part of a series discussing disasters and starts with photos and a description of a tornado’s destructive force. (It really does sound like a fast-moving train roaring overhead.) Tornadoes need certain storm conditions to form, which are clearly and graphically described through the use of illustrations and highlighted explanations. There is also a clever experiment using a role of paper towels to let the reader comprehend how a tornado develops. Concise photos of tornadic activity from start to finish give good visual understanding of the storm’s shape. The book also explains away myths about twisters and shows ways of staying safe during a tornado. These destructive forces can occur anywhere and at any time, although they tend to be more prevalent at certain times of the day and year. Photos of the devastation caused by a tornado are breath taking. The book is a good jumping off point for a science teacher’s discussion of weather and its affects on humans and the planet.

BIBLIO: 2011, Velocity/Capstone Press, Ages 8 +, $30.65.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan;

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-1-4296-5494-4

ISBN: 978-1-4296-6281-9



            Volcanoes are amazing and probably thrilling as well as scary to witness. My father once had a story rejected because the editor didn’t believe Daddy’s description of a volcanic eruption. Having spent a number of years in Hawaii growing up, he, of course, witnessed several eruptions and probably knew more about it than the editor.

Volcano Alert!

Paul Challen

            Some people spend their whole lives keeping an eye on the “sleeping giant” hovering over their land. Some volcanoes erupt with regularity, flinging molten rock high in the air or oozing a steady stream down the mountain side. Others, like Mount St. Helen in Oregon, slumber for more than a century before erupting. There are a lot of interesting tidbits of information tucked into this brief overview of volcanic activity and many of the photos are spectacular. Plus, who wouldn’t want to make a volcano? The reader will learn about the four types of volcanoes, the type of rock they make and myths related to why volcanoes erupt. The word volcano comes from the Roman myth that their god Vulcan sent up molten rock and metal as he worked at his forge making weapons. Volcanoes coat everything in their paths with ash or lava, destroying villages and trees, but they also are responsible for building new islands in some parts of the world. Although the reader might be inspired to learn more after reading this Guided Reading Level Q book, there is no bibliography except for a couple of websites.

BIBLIO: 2011, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 8 to 10, $8.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan;

FORMAT: Chapter Book

ISBN: 978-0-7787-1595-5

ISBN: 978-0-7787-1628-0



            Even though we had a lot of rain this past weekend, my husband’s California family has been suffering from a 3-year drought. Whatever you think about what’s causing the changed weather patterns, we all need to be aware that changes are occurring and take care with how we manage our resources. This last book is about conserving water. There is, after all, a finite supply.

Water Wise

Alison Hawes

            One in a series of books put out by Crabtree Connections teaching about history, medicine and the environment among other things, this brief paperback discusses water and the ways we can use it more wisely. For instance, only 3% of all water on our planet is drinkable, yet people routinely waste gallons while brushing their teeth or watering the lawn—especially people in wealthy countries. People in poor countries frequently have improper sanitation and can get deadly diseases such as cholera or dysentery because their water supplies are polluted. The book contains much useful information, but nothing really entices middle-grade children to care. Perhaps relating water shortages to lack of a swimming pool or only being able to wash one’s hair or taking a full bath once a week with water the whole family has to share, would give children more of an appreciation for the water problems the world is facing. Simple experiments would also drive the point home. However, teachers will certainly find value in using the information as a starting point in discussing the Earth’s water resources.

BIBLIO: 2011, Crabtree Publishing Company, Age 8 to 12, $8.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan;

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-0-7787-9925-2

ISBN: 978-0-7787-9904-7






One thought on “Changing Weather

  1. Dear Sarah,
    Thanks for sharing about the abundant rainfall in your area and also reviewing the books to help us be more aware about our changing environment.

    Celebrate you
    Never Give Up

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