ROCKS IN HIS HEAD

A big-hearted true story of a man with rocks in his head (and in his pocket), nourished by the deep humanity in Stevenson’s watercolors. Hurst’s father was a rock hound. His mineralogical thrall started in childhood and he just couldn’t collect enough rocks. People said he had rocks in his head: “Maybe I have,” he said. “Maybe I have.” But he had to earn a living and to that end he ran a filling station, which did good business, and he kept his rock collection on the back shelves of the service bay. Then the Depression cut that business down, so the family moved to a ramshackle old house that her father had to fix up, but not before settling his rock collection up in the attic. He worked at odd jobs as he could find them, but on rainy days when he could find no work, he’d go to the science museum to look at their rock collection. One day the director of the museum has a chat with him, goes home with him to see his collection, and offers him a job as the night janitor, which leads ultimately to a curatorship in mineralogy. The purity of her father’s passion for rocks gives this story enormous power; he’s not expecting to make a buck off them, he’s just happy to be in their elemental presence. And through good time and bad, he’s like one of them—a real rock—to his family. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-029403-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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