Cover image for Dear Katie, the volcano is a girl
Dear Katie, the volcano is a girl
George, Jean Craighead, 1919-2012.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 21 x 27 cm
A grandmother and her granddaughter argue over whether a volcano is a geophysical phenomenon or an angry Hawaiian goddess.
Reading Level:
AD 550 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 29285.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.8 2 Quiz: 13683.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



What is a volcano? Katie's grandmother thinks that it is a geophysical phenomena caused by the movements of the earth's crust. But Katie is sure that the volcano is Pele, a Hawaiian goddess. Katie and her grandmother each argue their points, and it is not long before they realize that they are both right.With glowing watercolor illustrations, this original picture book tells the tale of Katie's and her grandmother's loving relationship, and of the natural history and mythology of volcanoes.

Author Notes

Jean Craighead George was born on July 2, 1919 in Washington, D.C. She received degrees in English and science from Pennsylvania State University. She began her career as a reporter for the International News Service. In the 1940s she was a member of the White House press corps for The Washington Post.

During her lifetime, she wrote over 100 novels including My Side of the Mountain, which was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book, On the Far Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, which won the Newbery Medal, Julie, and Julie's Wolf Pack. She also wrote two guides to cooking with wild foods and an autobiography entitled Journey Inward. In 1991, she became the first winner of the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association's Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature. She died on May 15, 2012 at the age of 92.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-8. Science and myth square off in a confrontation on the slopes of Hawaii's Kilauea: as her grandmother delivers a lecture on lava, tidal waves, plate tectonics, and other "geophysical phenomena," young Katie counters by insisting that it's all the work of Pele, the goddess of fire, feuding with her aquatic sister Na Maka o Kaha'i. Powers alternates swirling, fiery glimpses of Pele, to whom he gives Katie's light skin and blue eyes, with quieter scenes of verdant kipukas (patches of vegetation between lava flows) and past violence, including a school bus half submerged in rock (next to the reassuring information that lava moves at only three feet an hour), schematic island-building sequences, and the bare plain around a recent small eruption within Kilauea's crater. Ultimately, the grandmother capitulates, recognizing that her story and Katie's are essentially the same. This rare comparison of world views not only contains a fair amount of scientific and cultural information but also could spark a search for similar parallels in nature. --John Peters

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-As Katie and her grandmother watch the Kilauea volcano erupt during their trip to Hawaii, Grandmother describes the eruption process as natural history. At every step of their discussion, Katie corrects her, interpreting the volcano in terms of the myth of Pele, the goddess of fire. Grandmother says, "The lava found weak spots on the ocean floor and burst free." Katie says, "Pele burst free." In the end, they agree that the natural history and myth tell the same story. Powers's illustrations, done in vivid tropical watercolors, capture the intense tones of the islands and their volcanic activity. George's descriptions may confuse young readers with no prior knowledge of such events and sophisticated vocabulary is not defined in context (e.g., geophysical, epilogue, prelude, eons). However, with a little preparation, teachers will find this an entertaining introduction not only to volcanoes, but also to the relationship between natural phenomena and the birth of myths. A unique offering.-Rosie Peasley, Empire Union School District, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.