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Life on Surtsey, Iceland's Upstart Island



by
Loree Griffin Burns

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Imprint
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN
9780544687233

Awards and Honors
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2018, Older
MSL Cream of the Crop - 2018
School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2017, Nonfiction
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2017, Middle Grade
The Nonfiction Detectives, Best Nonfiction Books of 2017
Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2017, Informational Books for Older Readers
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On November 14, 1963, a volcano fifteen miles off the shore of Iceland exploded under the sea, resulting in a brand-new island. Scientists immediately recognized Surtsey for what it was: an opportunity to observe the way life takes hold.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
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Details

Format

Print

Page Count

80

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Dewey

577.5/2094912

AR

7.2: points 2

Lexile

1090L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Feb 2018

Book Genres


Standard MARC Records

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
A baby boy was born in Iceland on September 28, 1949. As is Icelandic tradition, he was not named until his parents got to know him better—eventually, he become Erling. In 1963, when he was 14 years old, an epic volcanic eruption gave birth to a new island, named Surtsey, just off the coast of Iceland. This provided scientists with a rare opportunity to study how life takes hold in a sterile environment, and so the Icelandic government made Surtsey a preserve. Science writer Burns tells two parallel stories in this fascinating and informative entry in series—that of Erling’s life and of his lifelong fascination with and study of Surtsey. The author traveled to Surtsey with Erling and a team of scientists in the summer of 2015. They stayed on the island for five days meticulously collecting samples of plants, insects, and soil, as well as counting birds and their nests. The fascinating, careful text not only explains the science cogently but adds insight into Icelandic culture and language. The book’s design is clean and eye catching, and full-color photographs of the island, the scientists at work, their living quarters, and the flora and fauna that they study are sprinkled throughout. VERDICT A plethora of curriculum connections make this a STEM title not to miss; budding scientists will return to this again and again.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

Horn Book

These entries follow researchers as they document the unfolding ecological dynamics of a pristine volcanic island (Surtsey) and trace the paths of asteroids that could potentially reach Earth (Impact). Surtsey features Erling ólafsson, an entomologist with a lifelong interest in the volcanic island that formed off the coast of Iceland in 1964. He was part of the first science team on the island when he was just a college student and, over a decades-long career, has continually returned to Surtsey to observe the growth and diversification of life there. Impact profiles a collection of astronomers, geologists, and meteorite hunters to examine the history of strikes to Earth and gauge the risks of future encounters. The discussion ends with a fascinating look at the technologies proposed (or in development) to protect Earth from a major impact. Both volumes prominently feature the research methods and tools of science. Burns, who traveled with Icelandic researchers to Surtsey, meticulously documents every detail of life in a remote field station, from the particulars of trapping insects to the extremes taken to minimize human impact on the island. Vivid photographs of field locations in both volumes convey, respectively, the rocky landscapes of Surtsey and its inhabitants and the impressive size of the Arizona impact crater. Impact also contains excellent diagrams, maps, and artistic renderings. Extensive appended resources point readers to additional information. danielle j. ford

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
A baby boy was born in Iceland on September 28, 1949. As is Icelandic tradition, he was not named until his parents got to know him better—eventually, he become Erling. In 1963, when he was 14 years old, an epic volcanic eruption gave birth to a new island, named Surtsey, just off the coast of Iceland. This provided scientists with a rare opportunity to study how life takes hold in a sterile environment, and so the Icelandic government made Surtsey a preserve. Science writer Burns tells two parallel stories in this fascinating and informative entry in series—that of Erling’s life and of his lifelong fascination with and study of Surtsey. The author traveled to Surtsey with Erling and a team of scientists in the summer of 2015. They stayed on the island for five days meticulously collecting samples of plants, insects, and soil, as well as counting birds and their nests. The fascinating, careful text not only explains the science cogently but adds insight into Icelandic culture and language. The book’s design is clean and eye catching, and full-color photographs of the island, the scientists at work, their living quarters, and the flora and fauna that they study are sprinkled throughout. VERDICT A plethora of curriculum connections make this a STEM title not to miss; budding scientists will return to this again and again.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

Horn Book

These entries follow researchers as they document the unfolding ecological dynamics of a pristine volcanic island (Surtsey) and trace the paths of asteroids that could potentially reach Earth (Impact). Surtsey features Erling ólafsson, an entomologist with a lifelong interest in the volcanic island that formed off the coast of Iceland in 1964. He was part of the first science team on the island when he was just a college student and, over a decades-long career, has continually returned to Surtsey to observe the growth and diversification of life there. Impact profiles a collection of astronomers, geologists, and meteorite hunters to examine the history of strikes to Earth and gauge the risks of future encounters. The discussion ends with a fascinating look at the technologies proposed (or in development) to protect Earth from a major impact. Both volumes prominently feature the research methods and tools of science. Burns, who traveled with Icelandic researchers to Surtsey, meticulously documents every detail of life in a remote field station, from the particulars of trapping insects to the extremes taken to minimize human impact on the island. Vivid photographs of field locations in both volumes convey, respectively, the rocky landscapes of Surtsey and its inhabitants and the impressive size of the Arizona impact crater. Impact also contains excellent diagrams, maps, and artistic renderings. Extensive appended resources point readers to additional information. danielle j. ford

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