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 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’s 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.