Erickson, Jon 1948-
ERICKSON, Jon 1948-
PERSONAL: Born April 3, 1948, in Fosston, MN; son of Stuert (with the Federal Aviation Administration) and Hazel (Peterson) Erickson. Education: University of Arkansas, M.S.
ADDRESSES: Home—2051 K Road, Fruita, CO 81521.
CAREER: Geologist and writer.
"discovering earth science" series
The Mysterious Oceans, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1988.
Violent Storms, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1988.
Volcanoes and Earthquakes, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1988.
Exploring Earth from Space, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1989.
The Living Earth: The Coevolution of the Planet andLife, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1989.
Greenhouse Earth; Tomorrow's Disaster Today, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1990.
Ice Ages: Past and Future, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1990.
Dying Planet: The Extinction of Species, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1991.
Target Earth!: Asteroid Collisions Past and Future, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1991.
World out of Balance: Our Polluted Planet, TAB Books (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), 1992.
"the living earth" series
An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals: SeekingClues to the Earth's Past, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1992, revised edition, 2000.
Plate Tectonics: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Earth, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1992, revised edition, 2001.
Rock Formations and Unusual Geologic Structures:Exploring the Earth's Surface, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1993, revised edition, 2001.
Quakes, Eruptions, and Other Geologic Cataclysms:Revealing the Earth's Hazards, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1994, revised edition, 2001.
Marine Geology: Undersea Landforms and Life Forms, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1996, revised edition, 2002.
Making of the Earth: Geologic Forces That ShapeOur Planet, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2000.
Lost Creatures of the Earth: Mass Extinction in theHistory of Life, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.
Environmental Geology: Facing the Challenge of OurChanging Earth, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.
Historical Geology: Understanding Our Planet's Past, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.
Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites: Cosmic Invaders of the Earth, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.
"the changing earth" series
Craters, Caverns, and Canyons: Delving beneath theEarth's Surface, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1993.
The Human Volcano: Population Growth as GeologicForce, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1995.
A History of Life on Earth: Understanding OurPlanet's Past, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1995.
Glacial Geology: How Ice Shapes the Land, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1996.
SIDELIGHTS: Author Jon Erickson has blended a professional interest in geology and related topics with a penchant for writing with "signature clarity and liveliness," according to Booklist's Donna Seaman. The result is two dozen books in the earth sciences for junior high and high school readers in three different series: "Discovering Earth Science," "The Changing Earth," and "The Living Earth." Erickson's books entertain as well as inform, and have been commended by reviewers for their reader-friendly prose as well as their scholarly approach. He has written on topics from the environment—such as the population explosion and the greenhouse effect—to the formation of the earth and plate tectonics.
Born in 1948 in Fosston, Minnesota, Erickson earned his master's degree in natural science and geology at the University of Arkansas and began writing for young readers in 1988 with his first title in the "Discovering Earth Science" series. His The Mysterious Oceans was a "timely" book, according to a Kliatt reviewer, who further praised Erickson's description of the history, biology, and chemistry of the world's oceans in "clear, nontechnical terms." Topics from ocean pollution and overfishing to the influence of oceans on weather are covered in the title. Writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, Linda Palter praised this series starter as a "well-written and interesting science book." Erickson takes a look at climate and weather in another series title, Violent Storms, "nearly an encyclopedic treatment of the subject," as Mick Tuccillo noted in Voice of Youth Advocates. Tuccillo further remarked that Erickson does more than merely look at bad weather; his book also focuses on good and not-so-good weather, on the folklore of weather, and even on "nuclear winter." Tuccillo praised Erickson's "clear and concise" narrative, tempering "scientific fact with a graceful literary technique." A reviewer for Times Educational Supplement also called the same title "readable and well illustrated."
Erickson also explored topics from volcanoes to the future of the earth in this first series. His Volcanoes and Earthquakes is an "excellent general text for anyone with a basic understanding of geology," according to Booklist's George R. Hampton. With Exploring Earth from Space, Erickson chronicles our attempts at a better understanding of this planet's geology by a study of the geology of other planets and by a view of planet Earth from space. Carole Mann, writing in Book Report, found this to be a "browsable volume [that] demonstrates a thorough exploration of the geological uses of space." Dying Planet, on the other hand, offers a very different view of this planet. As Jon Kartman noted in a Booklist review, "We view Earth as the planet of life, but perhaps it's more accurately seen as the planet of death." Erickson's book takes a look at five major periods of extinction in Earth's history; in these periods half or more of the species alive died out. Kartman called Erickson's book both "sobering and frightening." The author details causes of such extinctions, from meteors hitting Earth to volcanism on the planet. Most sobering of all is Erickson's contention that we are entering another period of extinction now, spurred on by man's tampering with the biological balance. Frances Bradburn, reviewing the same title in Wilson Library Bulletin, praised Erickson's use of "fascinating detail."
Erickson further explores climatic change on this planet in Greenhouse Earth and Ice Ages. In the former book he gives a "useful" overview of the subject of global warming, according to Susan Hamilton, writing in Appraisal. In Ice Ages he traces historical periods as well as makes forecasts of ice ages to come, discussing how ice not only shaped the landscape but also determined climate and biological changes. Booklist's Hampton commended Erickson for making complex topics and interrelationships "easy to grasp." Target Earth! examines the geological record for asteroid collisions with Earth and speaks of the possibility of such future occurrences. Janet Hofstetter, reviewing this title in Book Report, was less than enthused, finding the author's account to be full of "gloom and doom," and also questioning some of the science. In World out of Balance Erickson "makes a strong case for cleaning up the planet by presenting well-documented evidence of pollution and its consequences," according to Kliatt's Sue E. Budin. The same critic concluded that although some of his arguments are "a bit simplistic and one-sided," Erickson makes a "compelling case for humankind to clean up its act." Other reviewers, however, including L. H. Stevenson in Choice, found that Erickson's "passion for environmental protection" leads to "scientific integrity [being] severely compromised." Herbert J. Mason, writing in Science Books and Films, also complained that a "great deal of technical information [is presented] in the form of generalizations without specific supporting documentation."
For Facts on File publishers, Erickson has created two related series: books in "The Changing Earth" series were subsequently revised for the series "The Living Earth." Here Erickson surveys a wide variety of topics in earth sciences, beginning with An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals, a book that presents "interesting and important information on earth's history in less than 300 pages," according to Lori D. Kranz, writing in American Reference Books Annual. Kranz also praised Erickson's "clear and interesting" writing. This 1992 title was revised in 2000 to incorporate new discoveries in earth sciences that help shed light on the history of our planet. The same format was maintained from the book's original edition, and this holds true for all titles in the revised series. The books, all at around 200 pages, are divided into ten chapters, beginning with a history of the topic and proceeding to various more specialized aspects of the subject at hand. Included are charts, maps, illustrations, and tables, as well as a glossary and a bibliography of articles from periodicals found in most general-use libraries. A hallmark of the "Living Earth" series is Erickson's "well-developed expository prose style that is especially appropriate for making complex scientific principles understandable to a layperson," as Sally Kramer noted in a RQ review of series installment Craters, Caverns, and Canyons.
Plate Tectonics, the second title in the series, deals not only with such mechanics at work on our planet, but on other bodies in the solar system, as well. Claudia Moore, writing in School Library Journal, found that this title "quite comprehensive" yet "appropriate for ninth-grade students." Kartman, writing in Booklist, praised both the book for its mixture of illustrations and "clear, straightforward prose." More basic geological concepts are presented in Rock Formations and Unusual Geologic Structures, a book that is, on the whole, "refreshingly clear" and one that will "entertain the reader with the wonders of the rock world," according to C. J. Casella, writing in Choice. Erickson expands on this topic in Craters, Caverns and Canyons, a title that hardly does justice to the "broad scope of the book," as Donald R. Coates noted in Science Books and Films. Here Erickson tackles subjects from petrology to geomorphology, employing what Booklist's Donna Seaman referred to as "crisp descriptions" along the way. Coates dubbed the book "quite authoritative and readable," while a reviewer for Book Report called his approach to the entire series "unique" and written in "reader friendly fashion."
Further titles in the "Living Earth" series deal with topics from population explosion to earthquakes and oceans. The Human Volcano focuses on population growth and ensuing environmental degradation, a major concern for Erickson. M. Evans, writing in Choice, found the work "interesting—albeit academically superficial," while Lane Jennings, writing for Futurist, described the book as "written in a style that young people as well as adult readers can enjoy." In Quakes, Eruptions, and Other Geologic Cataclysms Erickson "masterfully presents" the mechanisms of such earth-shaping events, according to Booklist contributor Hampton. "A work of wide appeal," added T. L. T. Grose in Choice. And a reviewer for School Library Journal also praised the title, calling it an "excellent geological resource."
With the 244 pages of A History of Life on Earth, Erickson "covers billions of years of the Earth's geological and biological history," according to Dino Vretos in School Library Journal. Vretos went on to commend the writer for making the processes involved in such a history "understandable and plausible." Marilyn Brien, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, found that Erickson's book "contains a wealth of information on historical geography and paleontology." The author's Marine Geology takes readers closer to the earth's core in an "instructive and useful book," according to Seaman in Booklist. Claudia Moore, writing in School Library Journal, found the same title provided a "much-needed, but seldom seen, link between usually isolated disciplines of geology, oceanography, and biology." Glacial Geology serves the same function for the sculpting power of ice. It is, as J. T. Andrews wrote in Choice, a "broad treatment of episodes of glaciation within the context of earth history."
The "Living Earth" series continues with Making of the Earth and Lost Creatures of the Earth, published in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Seaman called the former title a "well-illustrated overview of geomor phology" in a Booklist review, and added that Erickson "vividly explain[s]" forces from mountain building to volcanoes and tectonics. Lost Creatures of the Earth is a "scholarly work," as Patricia Manning noted in School Library Journal. Erickson examines mass extinction in the history of life on Earth, a title similar to his earlier Dying Planet. Manning also lauded the author's "readable" text and the "vast amount of factual material" presented, hallmarks of all his work.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Reference Books Annual, 2001, Lori D. Kranz, review of An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals, p. 703.
Appraisal, winter, 1991, Susan Hamilton, review of Greenhouse Earth, pp. 14-15; winter, 1992, Charlotte A. Pavelko, review of Dying Planet, pp. 23-24; fall, 1996, Sarah Helman, review of Glacial Geology, p. 42.
Booklist, January 1, 1989, George R. Hampton, review of Volcanoes and Earthquakes and Violent Storms, pp. 736-737; October 1, 1990, George Hampton, review of Ice Ages, pp. 235-236; June 1, 1991, Jon Kartman, review of Dying Planet, p. 1848; April 15, 1992, Jon Kartman, review of An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals and Plate Tectonics, p. 1490; May 1, 1993, Donna Seaman, review of Craters, Caverns, and Canyons, p. 1556; August, 1994, George Hampton, review of Quakes, Eruptions, and Other Geologic Cataclysms, p. 2008; December 1, 1995, Donna Seaman, review of Marine Geology, p. 596; December 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Making of the Earth, p. 683.
Book Report, January, 1990, Carol Mann, review of Exploring Earth from Space, p. 62; September, 1991, Janet Hofstetter, review of Target Earth! p. 54; January, 1993, Liz Hunter, review of An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals, p. 59; December, 1993, review of Craters, Caverns, and Canyons.
Choice, January, 1991, D. J. Ives, review of Ice Ages, p. 798; October, 1992, L. H. Stevenson, review of World out of Balance, p. 320; December, 1993, C. J. Casella, review of Rock Formations and Unusual Geologic Structures, p. 633; January, 1995, T. L. T. Grose, review of Quakes, Eruptions, and Other Geologic Cataclysms, p. 818; September, 1995, M. Evans, review of The Human Volcano, p. 148; September, 1996, J. T. Andrews, review of Glacial Geology, p. 158; November, 1996, J. T. Andrews, review of Marine Geology, p. 487.
Futurist, July-August, 1995, Lane Jennings, review of The Human Volcano, p. 63.
Horn Book Guide, fall, 1991, Daniel Brabander, review of Target Earth! p. 295; spring, 1996, Danielle J. Ford, review of A History of Life on Earth, p. 105.
Kliatt, January, 1989, review of The MysteriousOceans, p. 56; November, 1992, Sue E. Budin, review of World out of Balance, p. 42.
RQ, winter, 1993, Sally Kramer, review of Craters,Caverns, and Canyons, pp. 281-282.
School Library Journal, March, 1993, Claudia Moore, review of An Introduction to Fossils and Minerals and Plate Tectonics, pp. 240-241; November, 1994, review of Quakes, Eruptions, and Geologic Cataclysms, p. 146; May, 1996, Dino Vretos, review of A History of Life on Earth, pp. 150-151; July, 1996, Claudia Moore, review of Glacial Geology and Marine Geology, p. 109; August, 2002, Patricia Manning, review of Lost Creatures of the Earth, p. 137.
Science Activities, winter, 1994, John W. McLure, review of Craters, Caverns, and Canyons, p. 41.
Science Books and Films, May, 1992, Herbert J. Mason, review of World out of Balance, p. 107; November, 1993, Donald R. Coates, review of Craters, Caverns, and Canyons; August, 1995, Kathleen Human, review of The Human Volcano, p. 170.
Times Educational Supplement, March 24, 1989, review of Violent Storms, p. 36.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1989, Linda Palter, review of The Mysterious Oceans, p. 300; April, 1989, Mick Tuccillo, review of Violent Storms, pp. 55-56; February, 1996, Marilyn Brien, review of A History of Life on Earth, pp. 392-393.
Wilson Library Bulletin, November, 1991, Frances Bradburn, review of Dying Planet, pp. 94-95.