Volcano Dreams: A Story of Yellowstone

Children learn about the wolves, elk, and mountain goats that live in Yellowstone today to the supervolcano that erupted thousands of years ago.

Author: Janet Fox
Illustrator: Marlo Garnsworthy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Ages: 5-9
Grade Levels: K-4
Lexile: 720L
Paperback ISBN: 978-0988330399
Price: $12.95
Where to Purchase:

Award Reading The West Award shortlist 2018

Award Reading The West Award shortlist 2018

Award 2020 Treasure State Award 3rd Place, Montana State Literacy Association

“Janet Fox warmly harnesses the rhythms and sensations of wakefulness and sleep in this insightful exploration of the geological past and (hopefully quite distant) future of an American treasure.” —Chris Barton, Sibert Honor-winning author of The Day-Glo Brothers.

“Under a Yellowstone landscape populated by interesting animals lies a sleeping giant, a great volcano. This book makes a clever connection between the geology and the wildlife of America’s first national park. A gentle text and scenic illustrations depict various animals’ activities throughout the day. Then, attention turns to what’s happening underground, the processes that result in the bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and roaring geysers. Fox describes a time when the volcano erupted, noting the lasting effects in the rocks and plant cover, and, finally, the narrative returns to the animals, now ready for sleep. The metaphor is accessible even to young listeners, and the effect is soothing rather than frightening. The text and translucent frames for the animal scenes are set directly on double-page illustrations done with pencil, watercolor collage, and digital oil paints. These realistic images show the large animals described in the text—wolf, moose, bear, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, coyote—and smaller ones that can be found by the curious child and easily identified by a knowledgeable adult reader. A helpful map on the title page shows the outlines of the caldera within the park; the backmatter includes a glossary of volcano-related words and more about this long-dormant “supervolcano.” The author’s first picture book reflects her own appreciation for this national treasure, which could inspire family visits. An unusual and appealing addition to the sense-of-wonder shelf.”—Kirkus Review

“This lyrical, lusciously illustrated title offers an introduction to the flora and fauna of Yellowstone Park to young readers. A brief history of the formation of the world-renowned land feature is simply, yet dramatically told. The personification of the magma chamber beneath the park as a sleeping giant will work well for this audience. Special features such as mud pots, steam vents, and geysers are touched upon, while volcano vocabulary such as magma, volcanic ash, lava, and obsidian glass are made clear by the vibrant watercolor collage and digital oil illustrations. Children will be drawn to the double-page spreads depicting animals of Yellowstone—bison, wolves, moose, bears, big horn rams, and mountain goats—in their natural habitat. Though students will likely choose this book for browsing, it is perfect for teachers in need of simple, engagingly rendered books on national landmarks, land features, and animal habitats. An addendum, “More About Yellowstone and Its Volcano,” further aids instruction. A valuable addition to an Earth science collection. Glossary.”—School Library Connection

“Something big is sleeping in Yellowstone, but it isn’t any of the animals. The wolf is watching out for her pups, the moose is scooping up pondweed, the bear is eating chokecherries, the rams are playing, the buffalo are grazing, the coyote howls, and even the earth is awake. Mud pots are bubbling, steam vents are hissing, and geysers are roaring. Way down deep in the ground where the rocks are soft and hot, a sleeping giant waits to wake again someday. Long ago the volcano erupted and formed the great yellow cliffs, columnar joints, liquid rock froze to black obsidian glass and left the land to be carved into deep canyons by streams and rivers, and lush meadows grew. It may be a very long time before the volcano erupts again, but for now the animals, nature, and humans enjoy the beauty of Yellowstone. A beautifully told story of Yellowstone.”—KidsBookshelf

“Lyrical prose and luminous paintings lead young readers ages 5 to 9 on a picture book tour of the Yellowstone supervolcano, from the wolves, elk, bears, and mountain goats that roam its surface, to the fiery depths of its magma chamber. “Volcano Dreams: A Story of Yellowstone ” deftly knits together the vibrancy of the Yellowstone ecosystem with its explosive history, placing the everyday lives of its creatures within the context of geological time. Janet Fox’s poetic text takes us to the root of it all by identifying the “sleeping giant” of magma responsible for the Yellowstone landscape. Marlo Garnsworthy’s evocative paintings fully capture the awe of natural forces at work in our nation’s oldest national park. Entertaining, informative, and thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ from first page to last, “Volcano Dreams: A Story of Yellowstone” is unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.”—Midwest Book Review

Click to download Geology, Science, Art and Literature Activities. Learn about volcanoes by creating a geyser, researching thermal features, and drawing and writing about our earth’s geology.

Click to view educational standards and leveling information.


Janet Fox

Janet Fox is an author, mom, outdoor enthusiast, and former teacher. She has an MS in marine geology and an MFA in Writing for Children. Her award-winning books, written for children and young adults, have won her fans of all ages. She’s been to the bottom of the ocean in a submersible and has spent many years in Yellowstone National Park “geyser gazing” with her son and geophysicist husband. She lives in Bozeman, Montana. You can find out more about Janet, her books and her school presentations at www.janetsfox.com.


Marlo Garnsworthy

Marlo Garnsworthy is an Australian-American author, illustrator, editor, science communicator, and naturalist. Her published works include fiction and nonfiction, though nonfiction and science are her passion. She has traveled extensively, frequently accompanying scientists working in the field, and spent two months on a scientific research expedition, sailing on an icebreaker from Antarctica through the planet’s roughest seas, in the Southern Ocean. She lives in Wakefield, Rhode Island. You can learn more about Marlo, her books, and her school presentations at www.wordybirdstudio.com.