A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston

A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a lovely illustrated book about rocks. I never thought of rocks as alive or lively and yet, Ms Aston has a good argument for it.

In an elegant cursive font, the text tells us that rocks “bubble” (with an illustration of molten rock), for example. The cursive font on each page gives a simple statement of what the rock is or does, and a print font gives details to expand upon the idea. Thus, “A rock is mixed up” discusses how different minerals are a part of each rock. I loved the contrasts given for rocks. They are “galactic” and “old” and both “huge” and “tiny.” The rock cycle “A rock is recycled” is also illustrated in the text, and the ways humans use rocks (“useful” and “creative”) also appear as headlines.

In addition to the educational value found on each page of the text, A Rock is Lively provides stunning watercolor images of the rocks discussed, with layer details and labels so the true rock enthusiast can know just what rock the illustrator captured. I’m most in love with the page “A rock is surprising” because it shows the gorgeous insides of geodes. The jewels sparkle on the page, and I almost feel like I’m looking at the true rocks themselves.

I must admit that I know very little about rocks. That’s why this book was so impressive to me. By capturing the essence of rocks in both a picture book simple headline and in the facts in the margins, the young reader and the older reader alike can learn and enjoy rocks as they may never have before. I felt I’ve learned as I read and reread the book, and the gorgeous illustrations have also let me feel like I’ve walked through an art museum of nature.

 

Picture Book Sunday: The Queen’s Shadow by Cybele Young

The Queen’s Shadow by Cybele Young (Kids Can Press, March 2015) is a most unusual picture book for older readers about how animals see. It is difficult to identify as a fiction or a nonfiction, simply because it has elements of both!

In The Queen’s Shadow, a motley gathering of animal friends have gathered at the queen’s home for a party. After a lightning flash, the queen has found that her shadow is missing! Using clues about how the various animals at the party see, the detective is able to eliminate the animals that certainly could not have seen what has happened.Continue Reading

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Velchin

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Velchin is a lighthearted look at a serious time in Russian history. From the other books I reviewed this week about Pakistan child slavery and the Sudanese civil war, I have had a heavy week for reviewing difficult subjects. Breaking Stalin’s Nose, on the other hand, is a completely fictional story, but it still rings true.Continue Reading

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a fictionalized version of two related stories in the recent history of Sudan. It tells two parallel stories, one in the 1980s and the other just a few years ago.

In the early story, a young boy caught in the crossfires of the Southern Sudan Civil War.The other story parallel story told in alternating chapters is about a young Sudanese girl in 2009 whose job is to walk from her village to the water at the somewhat nearby pond and walk home again, twice each day. With an interesting twist, the two stories are able to come together.Continue Reading