Old Rock (is not boring) – written and illustrated by Deb Pilutti

Old Rock (is not boring) – written and illustrated by Deb Pilutti, G.P. Putnam’s Sons (an imprint of Penguin Random House), 9780525518181, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Old Rock and his three friends (Tall Pine, Spotted Beetle and Hummingbird) are having a spirited and philosophical discussion. His young, ditzy pals pity Old Rock who never gets to move around. They assume his life is boring (and by extension, meaningless) but Old Rock gently corrects their misconceptions. He has flown, like Hummingbird, but he popped out of a volcano! He may not be able to see ships sailing on the ocean, but he’s seen dinosaurs. Books with inanimate objects as main characters can be a challenge, but I loved the dialogue in this book and the facial expressions, especially on Old Rock, as he tumbles his way through Earth’s history. Students will learn a fair bit about the formation of the Earth and the passage of time, both from the humorous but earnest text and from the timeline at the end of the book. Also, a great lesson in respecting the wisdom of your elders. 

Pilutti’s artwork is top-notch and a great accompaniment to the text. She’s used casein (which I learned is a water-based medium made from milk) on watercolor paper. There’s lots of nifty, translucent layers and brushstrokes to look at. The characters are friendly and cartoonish, but not silly. They each retain enough of their natural characteristics to be representational but fantastical enough to allow for human speech. I loved a scene in which Rock retells of being in the dark (we just see his glowing eyes and some white text) and then, bam! Turn the page and surprise! He’s hurled up in the air on a jet of magma.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a great read aloud for a class starting a unit on geology or earth science from kindergarten through grade 3. Or as a science book for adults to read to kids at home with questions about the age of the earth. 

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. Absolutely fantastic for little scientists. And fun for the adult doing the reading, too.

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: February 4, 2020

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