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

Tomorrowland by Steven Kotler

Tomorrowland by Steven Kotler (New Harvest, May 2015) is a collection of previously published essays about the new frontiers available in science. The subtitle suggests that the text provides examples of how science fiction has become “science fact.”

I am not a scientist, so as I read, I found myself impressed with where humankind has gone. Chapters include explorations of man-made limb replacements, artificial vision surgery, flying motorcycles, space diving, the potential of stem cells, and DNA explorations. I was dutifully impressed with the details and possibilities explored.Continue Reading

Ten Rivers that Shaped the World by Marilee Peters and Kim Rosen

Ten Rivers that Shaped the World by Marilee Peters and Kim Rosen (Annick Press, Aprill 2015) is a delightful children’s nonfiction book about the significance of ten rivers on the history of the world. The rivers chosen are not necessarily the most infuential or the most interesting, but together the histories provide a well-rounded overview of world history and impact of rivers on the development of history.

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