Seibert, Patricia. Discovering El Nino: How Fable and Fact Together Help Explain the Weather. Illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis. Millbrook, 1999. ISBN 0-7613-1273-0. $21.90. 32 pp. A 3-5 PB NF Reviewed by Rachael W. Galvez This nonfiction picture book gives the history of cultural belief and scientific study that have synthesized into the weather theory popularly known today as El Nino.” The Spanish term traces back to fishermen on the coast of Peru, who observed changing ocean currents because of their striking effects on the coastal climate. They observed that a warmer ocean current came every year near Christmas time, thus the term “El Nino,” referring to the holy child. Later, a British scientist who studied monsoon patterns could be interconnected. Other scientists later validated his theories and expanded on them. Today when people talk about El Nino they are usually referring to a year when the ocean current is warmer than usual, warm enough to effect weather conditions all over the world. Such a year seems to come every three to seven years. Many scientists have also started using the name La Nina to refer to a year when the ocean currents are colder than usual, which happens about half as often as El Nino. Although this is a picture book, the concepts it discusses are quite sophisticated, making it more appropriate for older grade-school children. The illustrations are folkloric in style and emphasize the fable aspect of the El Nino theory. Overall, this is a very fun an informative book.”
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