Rock and Roll by Hazel Terry. Tiny Owl, 2021. 9781910328804
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? Two giant boulders (Rock and Roll) perch on opposite peaks and live as amiable neighbors through countless sunrises, rainbows, and winter storms. Millennium pass. Then humans arrive and leave “gifts” for the boulders: flags, cairns, and necklaces of bunting and rope. Jealousy over whose decorations are more beautiful erupt and tempers flare. The sky fills with bolts of lightning, which strike the quarrelsome rocks, blasting them into thousands of pebbles. “… All of the arguments rolled away” with the many resulting tiny stones sharing the treasurers that caused all the commotion in the first place. The artwork features the textures of ammonites, ferns, and coral (among other natural patterns) to imitate the surface of fossils, which the author-illustrator tells us shows the interconnection of all life. The colors are bright and the graphics, which may be digital, resemble cut paper and watercolor. The rocks are all round and feature smiling or grumpy faces (as called for) drawn with a black marker. Lively endpapers are filled with cheerful pebbles.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The didactic nature of the fable crushed the whimsy for me. I was also confused by some of the story elements. Why would the rocks want the trash that the humans left behind? Here was an opportunity to speak out about the disruption caused by cairn building and discarded climbing debris, but the author doesn’t explore this. I also don’t think rocks are a natural choice for characters in a picture book; they’re just not expressive enough. Sadly, the color transfer was blurry in spots, giving the rocks’ faces and edges a fuzzy look, which didn’t help
To whom would you recommend this book? I would be much more likely to recommend a book with a very poignant and terrific rock: Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
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: November 13, 2021