My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One cold winter, when the Finch family moves into their new house, Mr. Finch and his son find a tiny volcano in the cellar, pumping heat and steam into the house instead of a furnace. They decide to keep it a secret, so as not to alarm the ladies of the family, but when the summer heat makes the volcano unbearable, Mrs. Finch and her daughter are determined to know why their house is always so hot! The townsfolk begin to suspect that Mr. Finch is hiding something huge in his cellar, and they pester him for answers. Mr. Finch has to decide whether or not the volcano is a threat to the town, but his children have something to say about that too!
I loved all the clever little details about a family living in a house with volcanic activity! The snow melts off their roof, and their plants bloom in the winter. There are strange updrafts and strong winds surrounding their house as the steam rises from their cellar. All those details were so fun to read about!
I did not like that the men of the family had no problem hiding this major secret from the women in the family. They seem to think that they have it all under control and they don’t need the input or opinions of any women or girls, because those all-mighty He-men can do it all. bleh. And when the ladies DO find out, and have a very natural instinct to get as far away from a volcano as possible, the men belittle their fears and tell them not to panic. Wow, the sexism is all over this one. The only people in the entire book who have a natural, sensible, and logical reaction to the volcano are Mrs. Finch and her daughter! Then again, it is fiction; and if ALL the characters were sensible and logical, there would be no story.
I liked the way the plot included the neighbors and schoolmates, the town leadership, and even the state governor. The plot kept me really interested to see what would happen next!
I enjoyed the simple writing style, because it paints a picture of a small town with very few words and launches right into the story.
One of the craziest things was reading about people handling asbestos as if it were nothing. Mr. Finch orders a load of bricks and mortar, and a “large roll of asbestos” to help create a chimney for the volcano, and a geologist puts on asbestos gloves when examining the little volcano! It’s so weird, but they didn’t know any better back then.