An Island Grows, by Lola M. Schafer

An Island Grows by Lola M. Schafer, illustrated by Cathie Flestead (Greenwillow Books 2006)

I picked this up last week in the library's new book section--it seemed to fall nicely into the non-fiction that will appeal to both boys (6 and 3) category, and I liked the cover. It was a good choice.

"Deep, deep beneath the sea" the earth splits apart, and an island begins . The journey from a crack in the ocean floor to a tropical paradise is pleasantly told in rhyming couplets and simple but very satisfying pictures. The text was easy enough for 6 yr old to read, although sometimes rhyme was given more weight than simplicity-"Rocks appear, black and sheer." But heck, sheer is a fine word. My 3 yr old was very taken with the underwater buildup of magma. We all liked the dense page of factual information at the end; I, for instance, was able to share with my co-workers today the fun fact that the earth's plates move at the rate our fingernails grow, which is a lot faster than I would have thought.

The book gets a tad strange when people come into the picture--it appears to be an island of racial utopia, with people of all skin tones living and working side by side. This is lovely, and it looked unremarkable to the children (and of course in an ideal world this scenario should look "normal"). However, one of my main professional interests is the history and archaeology of European colonization, and I was a more than a bit jarred by the happiness of the island's integration into the capitalist world system, and I had to bite back a diatribe. But that aside, it was a very pleasant and instructive read-out-loud experience, and I'll be happy to read it to them again.
P.S. (added 4/15/07) My 3 year old has asked for this book at bedtime every night since we got it out of the library, and I have not particularly minded, which shows how appealing it is!

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