Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Dancing Elephants and Floating Continents: The Story of Canada Beneath Your Feet

by John Wilson

If you’re wondering what dancing elephants are, they’re huge machines that send powerful shock waves tens of kilometres through the Earth’s crust. Normally used by oil, gas, and mineral exploration companies, these machines have been adapted by Lithoprobe, a Canadian-run scientific program, to explore Canada’s geological history. Author/geologist John Wilson uses the data from Lithoprobe to explain how Canada has been formed over the last four billion years.

An innovative design that includes creative subtitles, sidebars, and full-coloured photos, maps, and diagrams helps explain Wilson’s challenging text. However, in spite of a clear, light, conversational tone and some simple hands-on activities, the concepts are not always easy to understand. Younger children in the suggested eight- to 12-year age group might have difficulty comprehending some of the vocabulary as well as such concepts as plate tectonics, the pressure of the Earth’s mantle, and the formation of mineral deposits. Another concept that’s extremely difficult to grasp is the passage of time. Wilson deals with this beautifully by comparing periods in the history of the Earth’s existence with the minutes in a typical 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day. For example, 100 million years ago is equivalent to 2:52 p.m.

For those who wish to further explore the book’s topics, an extensive list of web sites at the end of the book is followed by a well-designed index.