I’m Trying To Love Rocks written and illustrated by Bethany Barton

91VVpQYCQGL._AC_UY218_I’m Trying To Love Rocks written and illustrated by Bethany Barton. Viking, 9780451480958, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  Tongue-in-cheek humor combined with basic geology facts. This is another outing from author-illustrator Bethany Barton, whose previous works in this vein include Give Bees a Chance, I’m Trying To Love Spiders and I’m Trying to Love Math. After mistakenly assuming that rocks are boring (because they don’t “do anything”), the narrator is quickly schooled by a little girl of color who tells her that everything about rocks is worth investigating. A definition of geology, followed by an explanation of the rock cycle, are all illustrated with exuberant, slightly messy drawings and diagrams, with the girl chiming in with talk bubbles. The characters are simple and cartoonish, with appealing googly eyes, done with ink on paper and some Photoshop effects. The hand painted text has a slapdash, speedy look to it, but it’s still easy to read. I loved the endpapers: in the opening set, rocks are scattered across the page, all labelled “rocks.” After we’ve been educated, though, the closing endpapers feature the same rocks, all neatly labeled as slate, limestone, basalt, etc. A call to action at the end points out that rocks are almost like time machines and can be found everywhere, making it an easy hobby in which to get started, and inviting everyone to join the gender-inclusive and diverse rock club.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. The little girl doesn’t have much going on besides her interest in geology, but that works to keep the focus on the nonfiction element.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would make a nice, sprightly read aloud for a child interested in geology. It could even work as an opener for a class unit on geology in grades K-2. It’s definitely easier to get through than one of the Magic School Bus books.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries. 

Where would you shelve it? 552, rocks and minerals

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

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

Date of review: June 24, 2020

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