Title: Can It Rain Cats and Dogs?
Author: Melvin & Gilda Berger
Recommended Ages: 9 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★
Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!
I debated with myself before purchasing this book. Is weather really all that interesting to children? Will the book be filled with stuffy language that might turn children off? In the end I decided to chance the $ .35. I’m super glad I did!
I’ve never been a weather person. My dad can talk for hours about the formation of a hurricane out in the Gulf and areas of ‘low pressure’ or ‘high pressure’. He just loves it. I, on the other hand, only check the weather in order to plan for a vacation – i.e., should I be prepared for temperature in the thirties or the nineties?
But this not-all-about-the-weather person found Can It Rain Cats and Dogs (a very all-about-the-weather-book) to be fascinating. The basic ideas of how our planet functions were explained in easy to understand language but without silliness. Here are a few examples of what was discussed in this book.
What makes the tropics hotter than the polar regions?
The direction of the sun’s rays. The sun shines straight down on the tropics. The rays are very strong, making it very hot.
The rays from the sun strike the polar regions at a sharp angle. This spreads the rays out over a large area. It brings less warmth to the North and South Poles, leaving them very chilly, indeed. [pg. 6]
What is the hottest place on Earth?
The town of Al’Aziziyah, Libya. On September 13, 1922, the temperature in the shade reached a scorching 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 C)!
The record in the United States is held by Death Valley, California. The temperature there has reached 134 Fahrenheit. Every summer there is a race in Death Valley. But the ground is so hot that it sometimes melts the soles of the runners’ sneakers. [pg. 10]
What is the coldest place on Earth?
Vostok in Antarctica. On July 21, 1983, the temperature hit a bone-chilling -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The lowest temperature in the United States, -80 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded in Prospect Creek, Alaska. Boil a pot of water in Prospect Creek and fling it into the air. You’ll see the water turn instantly into ice! [pg. 11]
Which animals are “living barometers”?
Frogs. They can feel a drop in air pressure. As air pressure falls they croak more. A study in China shows that frogs are very accurate in sensing oncoming low pressure. So, if you hear frogs making more noise than usual, pack an umbrella! [pg. 15]
Can you smell rain?
Sometimes. Plants always give off a certain oil. When rain is coming, there is a drop in air pressure, and the air picks up a trace of the oil’s odor. One sniff and you may be able to tell that rain is on the way. [pg. 29]
Is snow always white?
No. Red snow fell in Switzerland in October 1755. The color came from red sand that blew over from the Sahara Desert. In January 1925, a layer of gray snow covered parts of Japan. It was probably colored gray by dust from an erupting volcano. [pg. 30]
How often does lightning occur?
At this moment, meteorologists are tracking nearly 2,000 lightning storms around the world! These storms are hurling about 100 bolts of lightning toward Earth every second.
The city of Bogor, Java, holds the record for most lightning. It has lightning almost 9 out of every 10 days! [pg. 34]
Does lightning ever strike twice in the same place?
Definitely. The Empire State Building may be hit as many as 12 times in just one 20- minute thunderstorm! It is struck up to 500 times a year. But no harm is done. The building has lightning rods that carry the electricity safely to the ground. [pg. 37]
What was the most amazing escape from a tornado?
The escape of 12 children in China. On May 29, 1986, the children were on their way to school. As they walked along, a tornado sucked them up and carried them 12 miles (19 km) through the air. But then it gently dropped them down onto some nice, soft sand dunes. No one was hurt! [pg. 42]
Did you know?
Prevailing westerlies [a certain kind of wind] also speed up airplanes. It takes a half hour less to fly from New York to London (with the wind pushing) than to fly back (against the wind)! [pg. 18]
Your sense of smell is sharpest when the air is moist. [pg. 29]
The most costly hurricane to hit the United States was Hurricane Andrew. It roared across Florida and Louisiana in August 1992. Among its effects were 76 dead, 258,000 homeless, and $47 billion in damage. [pg. 39]
“Humid air is better to breathe because it moistens the linings of your nose and throat. The moist linings help to fight off germs that cause colds and sore throats.” [pg. 25]
On one page there are a few Q&As about global warming. Here they are.
Is Earth’s climate changing?
Yes. It is always changing – but very slowly. Over the last 100 years the temperature has gone up abut 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 C). Experts fear that the atmosphere may warm another few degrees in the twenty-first century. They call this global warming.
A few degrees may not seem like much of a change. But even a slight rise in temperature can increase rainfall, heat ocean waters, and melt polar ice. Over many years, global warming could force farmers throughout the world to grow different crops. And rising sea levels could flood the world’s coasts.
What is the chief cause of global warming?
Widespread burning of such fuels as oil, coal, and wood. This adds vast amounts of carbon dioxide gas to the air. The carbon dioxide traps Earth’s heat, which warms the surface and the atmosphere. Global warming is also called the greenhouse effect.
How can you slow down global warming?
Cut back on activities that require the burning of fuels. Walk or bike short distances instead of depending on car rides. Turn off lights when not in use to save electricity. And in the winter, dress warmly indoors so you can keep your house at a lower temperature and burn less fuel for heating. [pg. 12]
This page could be glued to the one next to it (which is a picture), or you could use this opportunity to talk to your children about stewarding – not worshipping – the earth.
In the section about meteors and volcanoes, the question is asked
How can a large meteor affect the weather?
A big meteor smashing into Earth can send gigantic amounts of dust in the air. The results can be the same as an erupting volcano.
Many people believe that a giant meteor crashed into Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact changed the climate so much that it led to the extinction of the dinosaurs! [pg. 45]
It’s true. Many people do believe that. Another fine opportunity for instruction!
One page mentions something about the “imaginary character who is said to cover things with a thin layer of ice”, Jack Frost.
Conclusion. A fun, interestingly informative book. Your weather-minded children will love it!