Review Detail

Kids Fiction 541
Vacation under a modern volcano
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Kenzie, Brianna, Wyatt and Todd have all have won the opportunity to study with Dr. Grier in Yellowstone National Park, observing the volcanoes. Aided by Ms. McNamary, the children get settled into their camp, find out a little bit about each other, and learn what they will be doing for the summer while they are away from their parents. Yellowstone has a supervolcano that is in danger of erupting, and Dr. Grier is trying to stop it. The problem? Adults are too big to send into the crevices to engineer the fix. Soon, the children are going underground in pods, setting controlled charges, making tracks, and learning a lot about geology. Why children? Dr. Grier says that no one else cares, but the children are right to be suspicious. They see other children around, but they don't say much; Nolan has two ferrets, but Eddie and Raquel are always kept at a distance. Soon it turns out that Dr. Grier's mission isn't as humanitarian as it seems, and even though Kenzie and her new friends have volunteered to work in the volcano, not all of the children were given a choice. How can the seismic seven figure out what plans Dr. Grier has, and how can they stop her before it is too late?
Good Points
Volcanoes are always an interesting topic, and this book is full of detailed information about all manner of facets about them. It reminded me a little bit of Wesley King's new A World Below in the vivid depictions of rock formations and the details about living underground. Every other volcano book I can think of has to do with historic volcanoes erupting, so it's innovative to include an adventure into one that might blow at any moment.

Even though there were seven middle grade characters and several adults, I was able to keep them all straight, thanks to the differences in their personalities and interests. Brianna is a vlogger who wants to document their experiences, but electronics don't always work well underground, even when she is allowed to have them. Three of the characters have a rather frightening back story about being involved in an earthquake in San Francisco.

The main plot, which I don't want to give away, involves a rather evil plot of world domination with an ecological theme, giving this book one more STEM connection. It's difficult to find books like this, and Slivensky's research is extensive. Science teachers are often asking for recommendations of books with science related topics, and I imagine this will go to the top of many of these lists.
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