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Friday, February 22, 2013

A Rock is Lively, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long. Chroicle Books, Raincoast. 2012. $18.99 ages 8 and up

"A rock is inventive.
...Flaky flint and obsidian rocks were chipped into arrowheads, spear points, axes, and hammers. Rough granite, sandstone and lava rocks were shaped into mortars and pestles for grinding seeds, rice, nuts, chiles and garlic into food. Today, humans use rocks to make cement and bricks, paper and pencils, glass, and toothpaste."

As they have done in previous collaborations, An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy and A Butterfly is Patient, this team creates a beautiful book that guides readers to a better understanding and knowledge of their subject.

Rocks is right! In this stunning addition to the set, the format remains familiar. The watercolor artwork is vibrant and detailed.  The double page spreads offer clear descriptions of the rocks that lie beneath the earth's crust, how they melt, how the minerals mix, and even rocks found in outer space (interesting in terms of recent news from Russia).

It is a great guide, meant to inform with clear text and brilliantly colored visuals. We learn that rocks are old, huge and tiny, helpful, surprising, inventive, creative and lively.  Helpful?, you ask.

"Some birds swallow stones to help them digest food. As the muscles in the gizzards of their stomachs move, food is "chewed" -crushed by rocks in the same way humans use teeth to break down food."

This is a great mentor text, allowing children to see how they can use their interest in a topic to make it come alive for others, through use of lovely language, impeccable design and detailed, labelled
illustrations. Each spread stands alone, offering a few paragraphs of relevant information. In the end it circles back to the beginning, restating the theme...a rock is lively. 

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