Explore Rocks and Minerals! by Cynthia Light Brown and Nick Brown; also--geological sci fi?

Nomad Press has a lovely non-fiction series, Explore Your World, that combines information about a variety of topics (here's the full list). My kids and I have enjoyed those that we've read, and the most recent to make it into our home was no exception.

Explore Rocks and Minerals! by Cynthia Light Brown and Nick Brown, is a straightforward introduction to geology, beginning with the planet itself, proceeding thought the various types of rock, and concluding with fossils. I particularly appreciated the discussion of the atomic underpinnings of minerals and crystals, which most geology books for kids (to the best of my knowledge) don't include:

"If you could explore the inside of a mineral and see its atoms, you would see that the atoms are held together in patterns. The pattern could be in the shape of a cube, a HEXAGON, or another shape. Geologists classify those patterns into six different groups depending on their shape. The pattern of atoms is repeated over and over again to build a crystal." (page 17)

There are many more details included, but this gives an idea of the level of the writing--straightforward, but instructive.

Hexagon, by the way, is in caps to show that it's one of the Words 2 Know, listed at the bottom of the page--handy, because words like "clastic" are challenging (even for grown-ups with a basic knowledge of geology).

The book includes twenty projects that are much more explorations than "crafts," and they bring to life the principles discussed most excellently. For instance, a metaphor of the earth is provided by a hard-boiled egg--a tactile representation of crust, mantle and core. Likewise, one can make a model of a salt crystal with gumdrops and toothpicks, basalt columns with cornstarch and water, and a sandwich with sedimentary layers. Each activity includes a "Things to Notice" section, to encourage Thought.

In short, a most excellent geology book for the young. I dunno if I'll ever get around to making basalt columns, but next time we have hard-boiled eggs, I'll certainly be bringing geology into the conversation....

(Bringing this on topic blog-wise, just because that's where my mind went-- geology isn't the science most widely featured in science fiction, but it sure comes in useful when exploring strange planets, and I think exo-geology is one of the most fascinating fields of study open to a sci fi character...But now I'm trying to think of some examples of geology in sci fi, I can only come up with three--Anne MacCaffery's Crystal Singer books, David Brin's Startide Rising, and The Green Book, by Jill Patton Walsh...what other good geological sci fi is there????)

The Non-Fiction Monday Round-up is at Playing By The Book today!

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)


  1. You could add Terry Pratchett's weird and rather obscure Strata, sort of about terraforming planets and then conspiracy theories. I think. It's been a while since I read it.

  2. gosh, I've never read any Pretchett except Nation...sigh. Someday.


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