Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In Volcano, Patricia Lauber rekindles the fires that drove Mount St. Helens to its eruption during three dramatic months, March through May, 1980. Through a well-documented text and spectacular color photographs, the author relays the events that led to the eruption, the enormous explosion itself, and the story of phenomenal recovery of the mountain and surrounding terrain.

Lauber first provides a scientific explanation of the volcanic process and of how Mount St. Helens began its explosive venture to become one of the most significant geological events in the twentieth century in the United States. All scientists’ eyes were on the mountain from the first minor quake on March 20, 1980. The mountain awoke with shaking and rumbling, and then the big blast on May 18, 1980, inspired members of the geophysical community to head for southwest Washington State, where the volcano loomed amid the beautiful mountain chain whose snow and glaciered peaks dot the Cascade Range. Lauber also details the survivors of the eruption, such as plants grabbing the slightest impressions to begin new life in a barren landscape. The final chapter connects Mount St. Helens to the cosmic picture of volcanoes as the purveyors of destructive and reconstructive geological processes.

The photographs paint the story with beautiful colors and offer a unique perspective. The author gleaned most of the U.S. Forest Service files for these vivid, almost-alive images...

(The entire section is 405 words.)