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When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island Paperback – Apr 18 2005

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Godkin (Wolf Island) views nature's "endless cycle of destruction and renewal" through an artistic rather than a scientific lens. Opening on a lilting note, the narrative introduces the "gentle, smiling people" who reside in a sleepy village in a lush paradise. They live off the land, collecting "coconuts from the beaches, fruit from the forest, and fish from the lagoon." A Gauguin-esque portrait of a mother and child draining milk from a coconut typifies the easy mix of cooperation and warmth in this closely knit community. One day, the mountain that towers over their village "rumble[s] like a giant" and refuses to settle down. A full-bleed painting of majestic birds, dominated by red parrots, fleeing the grand green expanse of the island telegraphs the imminent danger. The village chief tells them "the birds were the messengers of the gods" and the people, too, leave their home. The people witness the effects of the volcanic eruption from a safe distance on a new island: a tidal wave rises on the horizon, and "for weeks afterward the sky was black with smoke." Godkin punctuates earth tones with the vivid hues that nature bestows-from the brilliant tropical fish to the vermilion flames of the spouting volcano. These graphics help readers appreciate the contrast between the tranquility of the villagers' initial existence and the violence of the phenomenon that brings it to an end-at least temporarily. A lyrical yet dramatic portrait of nature's cycle. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-An island peopled by gentle inhabitants whose simple existence among the lush fruits, flowers, and forest is threatened by another of the island's features: a belching, cone-shaped mountain. Thus the crux of the story is that while the giant/mountain god is sometimes appeased by floral offerings, one day it is clear that it is about to erupt and leave only a barren smoking ruin. The people flee to a new island and "month by month, year by year" as they reestablish themselves, the old island, too, begins to renew itself. Nature's life cycle is complete. Godkin posits this story of loss and renewal as the "legend" of a volcanic island. The publisher marks it with a seal: "Informational Storybook." There have been a number of recent books that intermingle fact and fiction, more often fictionalizing nonfiction. This offering is an attempt at the opposite, and it is not entirely successful. The text is matter-of-fact with declarative sentences; the flow one is accustomed to in "legend" is missing. The repetitive refrain, "on the island," becomes an annoyance rather than a storytelling device. The illustrations, done in oils, have a primitive flatness that almost suggests Gauguin's Tahiti, but they lack spirit and form. The colors are not as saturated as they might be to draw readers in; the people seem either expressionless or angry, not content or fearful as the text suggests. The book is neither legend nor science and because it does not clearly establish itself as either, it falters.
Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Beautiful blend of story and fact May 13 2014
By Bonnie Ferrante - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a nonfiction children’s picture book suited for grades three and up. It is the story of a tropical island where peaceful villagers live in harmony with nature and each other. When the volcano, the villagers call the giant, growls they toss garlands of flowers into the crater. One day this does not calm the threatening rumbles. When the birds leave the island, the chief tells his people they must also leave. They pack everything into small boats and move to another island. The volcano erupts spectacularly. Its power even reaches their new home but the people know they must seek high ground for safety.

Little by little, life returns to the newly shaped island.

I wondered why the book said legend when it felt so much like history. Additional information for older readers is included inside the front and back covers explaining the lifecycles of volcanoes and their effects on Pacific Island people.

This is a compelling story which explains the geographical feature through the eyes of the most vulnerable people. The writing is clear, vivid, and at times even poetic “On the island there was a cool, blue Lagoon, many silvery fish swam in an underwater garden of strange and wondrous animals.”

What a superb way for children to learn about the behaviour and affect of a volcano. The picture book section will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The additional information provides facts and statistics the scientifically minded will find fascinating.

Celia Godkin illustrates her own work. As with her beautiful illustrations in Wolf Island and Ladybug Garden, the oil paintings glow with life. As the giant sea turtles make their way up the sand, we can imagine the sound of the rustling palm trees and the shifts of the ocean waves meeting the shore. The intense orange red of the fleeing parrots repeats in the flames of the volcanic blast and then reappears at the end with the returning parrots many years later. I love the way Godkin devotes an entire spread, without words, to the vividly exploding volcano, the star of the story. Another amazing book by Celia Godkin.

Highly recommended.

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