My Mouth is a Volcano

Lately I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the life lessons we’re responsible for teaching these two little boys with invisible cotton in their ears.  I’m tempted to make a checklist.  It usually hits me when I’m blow drying my bangs.  I find myself subconsciously re-reading the tag on my hair dryer: Red Alert: WARN CHILDREN OF THE RISK OF DEATH BY ELECTRIC SHOCK!

And then my mind starts to wander and I think about rewarning them not to put things around their necks… especially mini blind cords, and not to put their heads in plastic bags, and not to climb into empty refrigerators, or Coleman coolers, and not to eat Tide soap pods or Finish dish washing tabs or 100 vitamins, and not to run into streets or parking lots and not to stick anything into electrical outlets, and not to throw anything at large plate glass windows.  The list of “nots” goes on and on and on.

Unfortunately, the list of “nots” doesn’t even include the general “don’t ruin our house” things like don’t draw with pens near the leather chairs, and don’t hang on the silverware drawer, and don’t repeatedly crash wagons into the trim, and don’t play with metal garden tools on our wood floors.

Then there’s bodily harm lessons around not playing tug-of-war-ever-with-anything, and we don’t kick, hit, push, scratch, bite or tackle.

At some point we also have to get in the whole values piece with the importance of health and persistence and relationships and the “it’s easier to get a job when you have a job” business.

Somewhere in between bodily harm and how not to get kicked-out of college are the general manners lessons… and fortunately I stumbled upon one such book called My Mouth is a Volcano, by Julia Cook, illustrations by Carrie Hartman.  As you may be able to guess, this story is about interrupting, not hot lava… which may disappoint some young listeners.

Based on the back cover artwork, it appears to be part of a series on “Children’s/Life Skills.”  I’ll have to do some research on that.  How amazing would it be to find a clever, beautifully illustrated story with an intreaguing plot that also communicated the “never eat mushrooms you find” life lesson?!  Two birds, one stone.  Now that would be my kind of series.

Until then, it’s one life lesson at a time.  Why not start with interrupting?

In a nutshell: The story starts out with a homely tic-tac toothed boy named Louis who is reminiscent of the Pirates Don’t Change Diapers series.  He describes what it feels like when his words work their way through his body until he just can’t hold them back, spewing them like a volcano into every conversation.  He gets a taste of his own medicine when two kids interrupt his sharing presentation at school.  His mom teaches him a great technique for dealing with the natural human desire to share your own story when you hear something that reminds you of your own experiences.

Overall it’s a simple story that does a nice job of not only teaching why interrupting is rude and how it makes people feel, but also provides a clever way of dealing with it.

Families can talk about: When is interrupting allowed?  What can you say if someone doesn’t realize they’re interrupting you?  What are other important manners?  Do you know a good orthodontist we can refer to Louis?


My Mouth is a Volcano, by Julia Cook, illustrations by Carrie Hartman.


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