Life on Surtsey: Iceland's Upstart Island

80p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. HMH. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544687233.
RedReviewStarGr 4–7—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.

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