Home » Books » Exploring Nature » What’s So Bad About Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do
What’s So Bad About Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do

Written by Anne Rockwell

Illustrated by Paul Meisel

HarperCollins (2009)

The world is dependent on oil as its main source of energy. Although oil is plentiful right now, the supply will eventually run out, and even worse, burning oil is very damaging to the environment. What alternatives can help us use less oil and how can we protect the environment?

Download the Curriculum Guide


“ A stage two reader, the story of petroleum is told from a scientific standpoint. One point is made crystal clear to kids who may need a climate change primer: Gasoline is made from petroleum; petroleum is a fossil fuel; once it's gone, it'll take millions of years before even the promise of more can surface. ”

— The Associated Press

“ This timely book from the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series discusses oil as a fossil fuel, the history of petroleum use, and the environmental problems created by gasoline engines. The closing pages offer fast facts about gasoline and list related Internet sites. In a history section that moves quickly through the centuries, Rockwell presents facts that may intrigue adults as well as children. Using ink drawings with colorful washes, Meisel varies the visual presentation by including some unusual pictures, such as the view of a family car with its outer surfaces peeled away to show its occupants as well as its engine, gas tank, and muffler. Though the reading level is more challenging than one would expect for a primary-grade series, the book is one of the few to present this information in a format accessible to the age group. ”

— Booklist

“ Part of the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science series, this Stage 2 title educates readers about fossil fuels and the damage that their use causes to Earth. Rockwell begins with gasoline, the fuel that powers our cars. But its burning in the engine releases carbon dioxide, which then traps the Earth’s heat and causes global warming. The text then turns to an enlightening account of petroleum—how it is formed and what its uses have been throughout history. Coal gets a brief mention. Global warming’s potential dangers are elucidated, as well as some of the ways we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. These include the further exploration of solar, wind, nuclear and tidal power, as well as capturing factory emissions and searching for different types of automobile fuels. Meisel’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations nicely illustrate/summarize the key concepts in the text. Bright colors and rich detail will hold readers’ interest as they absorb the information presented. Especially strong in its explanation of the history of petroleum, this is an accessible and thought-provoking look at a global issue. ”

— Kirkus

“ In this introductory work, Rockwell pushes beyond the customary “Gas is bad. Ride your bike” diatribe to discuss why a commodity that has lurked around benignly for millennia has now become a threat to our entire global ecosystem. Formation of fossil fuel, coal as well as oil, is covered, and historical tidbits concerning use of oil from ancient times establishes that it’s not oil itself but its overuse, largely in modern transportation, that has affected atmospheric conditions that lead to global warming. Finally, Rockwell posits a range of Earth-friendlier, alternative energy sources that show promise for an environmentally healthier future. Though not every argument is crystal clear, the careful logic of the presentation easily compensates for these concerns; Meisel’s line and watercolor cartoons strike the right balance between urgency and optimism. Some quick facts about global oil production and usage are included, and a page of gasoline miscellanea with complete internet citations rounds out the presentation. ”

— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“ Rockwell presents the basic facts about how gasoline is produced, how it was first discovered, and its uses. She then discusses how gasoline and other fossil fuels, as they have become more and more widely used, have contributed to polluting the environment. Suggestions are offered on how to cut back our gas consumption, and alternatives such as solar power, wind power, nuclear energy, and alternative fuels are addressed… Detailed pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings in shades of blue and brown appear throughout, and text balloons help provide humor to various scenarios. ”

— School Library Journal

“ Packed with clearly written information about fossil fuels, including processes used to make gasoline and other products. Rockwell describes the long, interesting history of petroleum use. Paul Meisel supplies bright, active illustrations. ”

— Tacoma Washington News Tribune

“ Rockwell has some 100 children’s titles to her credit, and her experience is evident in her deft, lyrical handling of a topic as broad as the origins, history, production, uses and societal and environmental effects of petroleum and coal. The fact-filled text is well-matched by Paul Meisel’s playful, detailed illustrations.

— emagazine.com