Monday, February 21, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Oil Spill! by Elaine Landau

I admit I was skeptical about this title when I first saw it promoted - it seems way too soon to be putting out nonfiction about a disaster that is far from over. However, this turned out to be a very informative collection of information, although I do have some reservations about the book.

A detailed explanation of how drilling rigs work and what went wrong in the Gulf covers three short chapters. There are photographs of the disaster, as well as model drawings of the various equipment pieces. The fourth chapter details the effects of the oil spill on the ocean, beaches, and wildlife. In the follow chapter, Laundau talks about the clean-up efforts, including government agencies and volunteers. I did think the multiple references to President Obama's involvement were superfluous - it would have been better if the various agencies and future plans had just been detailed without the constant "Obama directed, said, stressed" etc. I didn't think his involvement was really relevant and the chapter should have focused on the people and agencies involved in the clean-up.

The additional information and ideas at the end of the book include two pages about "What you can do" including ideas on how children can help with the oil spill - raising money and writing to your representatives - and a collection of the usual save the environment directions; ride your bike, recycle, etc. I didn't think these were really relevant to the story. Pretty much every nonfiction book for kids that even touches on the environment, endangered animals, or science includes the same ideas (although I will say the "take shorter showers" is one I don't see often). I would have been more interested if perhaps this section had included some more relevant suggestions, maybe finding lakes or wetlands in your area that need cleaning or something. The list of oil spills in history was a good inclusion. The glossary was unnecessary, since most terms were explained within the book. There was a good bibliography with sources and further reading that included a variety of newspapers, internet, and print resources.

Verdict: Although I have some quibbles with a few aspects of the book, this is probably the best title on the Gulf oil spill available right now (or soon available) and will be a good choice for several years, when an updated edition will probably be needed - hopefully one that talks about how oil spills are being prevented and not about the latest disaster.

ISBN: 9780761374855; Published April 2011 by Lerner; Review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley; Purchased for the library.


Roberta said...

Children are definitely interested in the spill, so it is good to know this book is available. I would probably gone with an older title that I knew about.

Thanks for your insightful review.

Jennifer said...

There are several new books on the spill coming out in the next few months, but from the previews I've seen, this is the best one.