Fossil by Bill Thomson
Thomson, author of Chalk, returns with a book that once again mixes fantasy with photorealistic art. In this picture book, a boy is walking along the water with his dog. He finds an interesting rock but then trips and the rock goes flying and breaks open revealing a fossil inside. As he picks it up and discovers the fossilized fern inside the rock, ferns start to grow around him. His dog digs up another rock and when the boy breaks that one open, a huge dragonfly comes to life. The dragonfly lands on another rock and readers will see the claws on the fossil before the shadow appears. With his dog in danger, the boy has to think fast about how to save him.
Done in a wordless format, Thomson’s art is the real draw here. His photorealism makes for images that are worth lingering over. He also uses unique perspectives throughout the book, such as the image on the cover. The books has the universal appeal of a sandy shore littered with large stones and drenching sunlight. That same sunlight somehow becomes threatening once the dinosaur appears, almost spotlighting the danger and creating deep menacing shadows.
Vivid and beautiful, this book offers a dynamic take on fossils and prehistoric life. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
A Rock Is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
Another stellar collaboration by the team that created An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, and A Butterfly Is Patient, this nonfiction picture book focuses on rocks and minerals. The book begins with rock melted as magma beneath the earth. It talks about what makes up rocks and how old they are, as well as the rocks that we find in space. Rocks as tools and weapons are explored, mixed in with the amazing rock interiors that surprise and delight. The different types of rocks finish off the factual piece of the book, but the bright and beautiful illustrations continue all the way to the final lapis lazuli endpages.
Aston manages to write nonfiction as if each sentence is filled with delight. Her enthusiasm for the subjects she writes about is evident in her writing, inviting young readers to get just as interested as she is. The art carries that same enthusiasm in its bright colors and details. Done in watercolor, the colors are surprisingly deep and lush.
If you have the first three books from these amazing collaborators, this is a must-buy. It should be on the shelves of any school or public library, sure to get young people exploring a new subject. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
If Rocks Could Sing: a Discovered Alphabet by Leslie McGuirk
This is such an intriguing premise for an alphabet book! Each alphabet along with the items that the letter stands for are shown in rocks. The rocks were found along a Florida shore and not changed to look this way. It is a book based on finding treasures others overlook and seeing possibilities. The book has a simple layout, allowing the rocks to be the feature here. It begins with A is for Addition with rocks standing in for 1, 8, = and 9. B is for Bird with a very unique bird-shaped rock posed in a nest. C is for couch potato, because who could ever not use this perfectly potato-like rock! The book is a whimsical tribute to beachcombing.
It is such a simple concept that it has to be done right. While a couple of the rocks do seem more like blobs than the object they are meant to be, others are startlingly close. Look at the T is for Toast page, and you can almost see the whole-wheat grain in the toast slice. The book is a delight just to page through and discover.
It is a book that will have you looking for much more than pretty seashells on your next visit to the beach! Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.
Also reviewed by Journey of a Bookseller.
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