Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story
The forest animals are surprised when a volcano suddenly explodes, covering the land in gritty, warm ash and rocks that make it unlivable for many plants and animals. Gopher survives in his underground burrow with food to eat. How does Gopher help bring life back to the mountain? Scientists spent years observing life returning to the mountain following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. This fictionalized story is based on their surprising observations of how life returns to an area that has been totally changed or destroyed.
Written by Terry Catasús Jennings
Illustrated by Laurie O'Keefe
32 pg, 10 x 8.5, Ages 4-9, Grades PK-4
Lexile: AD 740, AR: 3.7, RC: P, F&P: M
Hardcover ISBN: 9781607181316, $17.95
Paperback ISBN: 9781607181415, $9.95
Educator Keywords:   volcano, habitat recovery earth science, life science, plate tectonics, map, sequencing
Animals in the book:   snowshoe hare, black bear, gopher, elk, squirrel, salamaner, toad, spider, ant, beetle
Purchase:   Books eBooks Stuffed Animals

Full of interesting facts, this picture book introduces youngsters to the eruption on Mount St. Helens. Through the point of view of a gopher that lives on the mountain, readers are told of the effects of the disaster on the habitat of living and nonliving things. The story describes how certain plants and animals survived the volcanic blast and how others were unable to find food or shelter after the explosion. It explains how nature rebuilds and recovers after years of devastation. Realistic drawings depict wildlife in all stages of survival. Full-page spreads and earthy hues will capture children’s attention and show the interconnectedness of nature. Back matter includes educational supplements and activities on natural disasters, habitat changes, pressure and melting, and tectonic plates.–Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
-School LIbrary Journal

"Meet a real lifesaver-gopher. A volcano erupts in the forest, killing many of the animals and all of the plants. Gopher is one of the few animals to survive. He helps with his tunnels by providing shelter to animals and nutrients to the soil. Eventually, the mountain is again teeming with life. This book would enhance the science curriculum: it touches on plants and animals in the U.S., habitats, and volcanoes. The back of the book contains educational activities such as an experiment and quiz. There are free online resources at the publisher’s website that coordinate directly with the book, and are available in Spanish and English. The illustrations are detailed and realistic; the text is large and bold so a young reader can easily read it. Children will like this title for the story, and teachers will find the factual aspects valuable to instruction." Patricia Walsh, Educational Reviewer, Norfolk, Virginia
Library Media Connection

"Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story is a good balance of engaging narrative and nonfiction information. The text is straightforward enough that young readers will enjoy it, but dense enough to be a springboard for many science topics like environmental changes, volcanoes, habitats, landforms, food chains, and so forth. The illustrations (by Laurie O’Keefe) are rich and detailed, revealing not only the beauty of the woodlands but the desolation of the area after the eruption. This book is a beautiful story of the resilience of nature and a testimony of hope in the midst of disaster."
Books For Learning

Author/Illustrator Info:

Terry Catasús Jennings has been heavily involved in the arts for the past 20 years, serving as a Cultural Arts Chair in her children’s schools. She is a contributor to the National Science Resource Center’s (NSRC) Science and Technology for Children and Science and Technology Concepts for Middle Grades series. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Long Island News Day and Ranger Rick and she wrote a family humor column for her local newspaper, The Reston Connection, for four years. Gopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story is her first picture book. Terry is a member of SCBWI. She and her husband live in Northern Virginia. Visit Terry's blog at

Laurie O’Keefe’s undergraduate degree in zoology and her graduate degree in human anatomy have helped with her scientific illustrations in the medical and scientific fields. Her client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in scientific illustrations from text books and magazines to zoos and museums. Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story is her first picture book. Laurie lives and works from her home studio, located on Orcas Island, WA. To see more of Laurie's artwork visit

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