Cover Image: Mountain of Fire

Mountain of Fire

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Member Reviews

I have to admit that I still have Volcano : The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens by Patricia Lauber from 1986 in my school library, mainly because I remember this happening. Obviously, after 40 plus years, the details are fuzzy, so it's good to see this major environmental event given a thorough nonfiction treatment.

Barone, who has a science background, does a good job at outlining the history of the volcanic activity in the area, and explains how modern scientific record keeping has changed over time. Sure, we know that there was an Eruption in 1853 that killed fish, but there isn't the kind of seizmological information that can be gathered now. Even in 1980, the information wasn't necessarily computerized; the readings would come out on paper. The most astonishing thing to me was that there was a lot of data gathered, but because some of it was able to be printed over the weekend, it wasn't able to be used to warn people!

Earthquake tremors began to be felt in March of 1980, and scientists were very concerned. Weyerhauser loggers and scientists were the only ones who were supposed to stay in the area, but as time wore on and Mt. St. Helens made the news, tourists started coming in to the area to see what was going on. This caused a lot of safety hazards, especially on the narrow, winding mountain roads. A lot of people were evacuated, but there were some hold outs; one of the more memorable characters who was on the news a lot was Harry Truman, who was determined to stay in his lodge that he had run with his wife. He was 83, and felt he had prepared for the disaster, which wouldn't really effect him. He eventually perished.

While most of the Spirit Lake Residents left, and the YWCA and Boy Scout Camps got permission to remove equipment from their camps, there were a number of hikers, photographers, and scientists who flocked to the area. The book even talks about Keith and Dorothy Stoffel, geologists who decided to charter a helicopter to fly over the mountain and were practically on top of the volcano when it erupted! There was also a family who narrowly escaped. In all, 57 people died, including David Johnston, who was the one remaining scientist at one of the observation points.

There's lots of interesting scientific information about what was occurring with the volcano and also about the aftermath. I was fascinated by the fact that grass seed was scattered over the area to try to get things to grow. All that it did was to attract a large number of mice, who ate the seeds, and when they ran out, gnawed on the emerging trees! Had nothing been done, the area would have recuperated more quickly.

My only quibble with the book is that the cover made it seem like this would be a fictional book; it's somewhat similar to the Lauren Tarshis 2016 I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980 cover, right down to the anachronistic skinny jeans. I also wouldn't have minded a list of the 57 people who were killed; it would be a fitting memorial, although I'm sure the information is available online.

Like Barone's Race to the Bottom of the Earth: Surviving Antarctica and Unbreakable: The Spies Who Cracked the Nazis' Secret Code, this is a well researched and appealing written book that will get a lot of use. It's great for pleasure reading, but has enough details to make it a good choice for research as well. It reminded me a bit of Walker's 2011 Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 in its combination of facts and personal stories.

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This was one of the most fast-paced, informative, intriguing non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Though it is marketed for a middle grade audience, I think it will appeal well to older ages. I read it aloud to my eleven-year-old and she stayed engaged and fascinated the entire time we were reading.

The cover gives off a historical fiction vibe, but there is nothing fictional about Mountain of Fire. Barone has done thorough research, and every time my daughter asked a question, it was usually answered within a few paragraphs. We especially appreciated the chapters at the end, which discussed what changed as a result of the 1980 eruption. The only thing I felt was truly missing were photographs, which of course probably aren't yet in the public domain. Still, I feel that I know a lot more about volcanoes and Mount Saint Helens in particular as a result of reading this book.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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A captivating read of the dramatic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. The narrative unfolds the tales of those who faced the volcano's wrath, those who survived, and the heroes who sounded the alarm. The book delves into the dilemma faced by Washington's governor, and the impending tragedy. It's a riveting account, perfect for middle-graders who love survival stories with a touch of history! 🔥📖

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Mountain of Fire is a great book for learning everything that led up to the eruption of Mount St. Helens and the aftermath. I think it would be an excellent companion for a historical fiction book about the eruption.

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This was a really well done book about Mount St. Helens. It had a great concept and worked as a nonfiction book for children. Rebecca E. F. Barone does a great job in writing this.

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Mountain of Fire is all about the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens, from the scientists who were researching the mountain to the campers caught by surprise. Barone is great at presenting a lot of information but still making the text approachable and exciting to read. This is a great option for middle grade readers who love survival stories.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Company for the e-ARC. This book almost reads like fiction as it jumps from character to character leading up and then during the explosion. The reader learns the science of volcanoes as well how unpredictable they are, especially Mt. St. Helens. For instance, rather than exploding from the top, it exploded on the north side. In addition, scientists were unable to predict when this would happen because for weeks leading up the the ultimate explosion, there were earthquakes, and spewing ash and steam, but not lava. Finally on May 18, at 8:30 at 8:30 in the morning, Mt. St. Helen's finally blew, almost like an atomic blast and vaporized anything in its path. There were mudslides and trees felled by pressure and landslides.

I realize this was narrative nonfiction, but pictures would have been great, especially for middle school students. I did appreciate the maps at the beginning. I also think it would be helpful to readers to have the dates on each chapter to help them keep track of the timeline.

I will purchase.

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This is different than any other book I've read about
Mount St. Helens.
This is a narrative nonfiction, not historical fiction, so it doesn't follow one set of characters on their journey to survive the eruption. Instead it accurately details the lead up to the eruption, the eruption, and the aftermath from the view of scientists and survivors. It is easier to read than a typical nonfiction because of the narrative format.
I have always been fascinated by the eruption of Mount St. Helens and knew I wanted to read this as soon as I saw it. It was a well written account of the eruption. When I think of middle grade books that deal with the eruption they are typically historical fiction. They tend to have a more optimistic look at the disaster and a happy ending for the characters involved. It was difficult to read sections about scientists, campers, and hikers that did not survive.
If you or a young adult that you know is interested in the eruption of Mount St. Helens then I definitely recommend this book for getting accurate facts. It is easier to read than a straight nonfiction, but still filled with so much information.

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Very informative book! This is a great read for any student who is interested in history and/or science. This book would also be a great addition for school reading assignments. As someone who already had a vast knowledge of Mount St. Helen's eruption, I still learned things I did not already know particularly about the time leading up to the eruption.

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Wow! Growing up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens, I have witnessed the “mountain” renewing herself my entire life (I was only weeks old for the eruption) and have heard the science and the stories told from many perspectives. Rebecca’s account brings new life to these stories and tells them in a way that is understandable and fascinating. Though I knew how it would end, I still found shelf rooting for the scientists studying the mountain and screaming at the tourists and homeowners who just couldn’t stay away.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but remember teaching in the suburbs of Seattle in the fall of 2004 when St. Helens “woke up” again. I remember turning in the radio during my planning period to hear the updates. I was surprised and delighted to see that Rebecca did not neglect this more recent “episode” of the life of St. Helens.

Though I think this book may be a bit too much for wary middle grade readers to tackle independently, older readers and those fascinated and familiar with volcanoes will find it gripping, just like I did.

Rebecca, you’ve definitely found a way to bring new life to a heavy, sorrow-filled story; my heart raced with each new character’s story and going all would turn out well for them in the end.

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This was an amazing read! As a Washingtonian, the eruptions of Mount St. Helens is fascinating, not only for me, but my students. I’ll be excited to add this book to my classroom library because I know it will be a hit with my 5th graders. Nonfiction chapter books for middle grade readers are hard to find, so I was definitely pleased with this one.

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It is rare to find middle grade narrative nonfiction that is actually accessible to mainstream tweens. This one is. This will be a must purchase to recommend to the kids who have torn through the I Survived series.

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