Book Review: If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk


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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Book Review: Are You Awake? by Sophie Blackall


Are You Awake? by Sophie Blackall

Edward wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep.  Luckily, his mother is right there though she is sleeping.  But Edward has so many questions to ask, that he can’t help but ask them right then and there.  The recurring question is “Why is it still nighttime?”  His mother has many answers for that question:  the alarm clock hasn’t rung yet, the sun hasn’t risen yet.  But Edward continues to ask a series of spiraling, looping questions that are endearing, charming and yes, enough to keep even the more tired mother awake.  As the book progresses, the two of them start talking about yellow things, and as Edward’s mother lists more and more things that are yellow, he begins to drowse, just as the room fills with the yellow light of the sun.

The conversations between mother and child in this book are so natural that all families will have some version of this story in their personal histories.  The lines of text are done in two different fonts, one for each character, so their voices are easily read aloud, but no extra words are needed.  Thanks to this, the book has a flow and ease to it that is just as charming as the conversation happening between mother and son.

Blackall’s illustrations play with the dim nighttime room, using just subtle touches of color in the otherwise black and white illustrations.  Readers with sharp eyes will notice the subtle changes as the night progresses, from a deep darkness, to blue tinged, to pinks, and finally to the bold yellow of the sunny day. 

Filled with gentle humor, clever writing and illustrations that convey the loving relationship, this book is a small gem ideal for bedtime reading snuggling under the covers.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.