This is a beautiful picture book that is sure to sell well at state and national parks and along rock-picking shores.
Rhoda is a young girl spending time with her aunt and uncle in their “up-north” cabin. She loves rocks … really loves rocks … and collects rocks of all shapes and sizes. On a hike, she collects a wide variety of rocks. As long as she can carry them, her aunt and uncle allow her to pick rocks along the way. Then they come to the “Big Lake” and its rocky shore. It is a rock paradise for Rhoda, complete with glowing agates. But Rhoda’s backpack is so full of rocks that she can’t carry them all, and so she chooses only the most precious of stones to bring back, building a small tower with the others.
Author Molly Beth Griffin really captures the curiosity and excitement of a child very well. We all recognize just about any child who’s ever been to the North Shore and hiked the north woods. And it would be easy to dwell on the negatives (uncomfortable sleeping and carrying a heavy pack laden with rocks) but Griffen touches on these without it drawing focus away from the joys of rock picking.
Jennifer A. Bell’s illustrations are perfect for this book. Simple and stylized and yet there’s enough going on in each page that adults and children alike will enjoy looking at the pictures.
I really, really like this book and I will be buying a copy or two for relatives this Christmas. But I do feel compelled to comment on two missed opportunities….
Not everyone who reads this book will have spent time picking rocks along the North Shore and so the idea of agates is lost here. They are described once (“tiny banded (rocks) that glowed the color of sunsets”) and mentioned once (“a small handful of tiny glowing agates”) but we never see an agate as a banded, glowing rock.
The other missed moment is the building of the cairn. The term ‘cairn’ is used (“Then she smiled at her rock cairns”) but it isn’t clear what a “cairn” is. I’ve seen many more cairns built along the shore in the last few years and I felt it might have been nice to describe just what it is.
In any case, this is one of the most delightful picture books I’ve read in a long time. It is highly recommended.
Looking for a good book? Rhoda’s Rock Hunt is the perfect picture book for families who enjoy the outdoors.
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Rhoda’s Rock Hunt
author: Molly Beth Griffin
artist: Jennifer A. Bell
publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
hardcover, 32 pages