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RHYOLITE by Diane Siebert Kirkus Star


The True Story of a Ghost Town

by Diane Siebert & illustrated by David Frampton

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: April 21st, 2003
ISBN: 0-618-09673-6
Publisher: Clarion

An unusual treatment of an unusual subject breathes new life into narrative poetry in picture book form. Eschewing the cute, the sentimental, and the trite, rhymed couplets tell, in extended narrative that recalls Robert Service, the extraordinary story of the Nevada boomtown Rhyolite, which was founded in 1904 and utterly abandoned by 1919. The desert’s coyotes watch as prospectors strike gold, people flock to mine the vein, and a bustling community rises up to support the activity. “Each week more people lined the streets: / An ice cream parlor served up sweets, / The opera house rang out with song, / And townsfolk, now ten thousand strong, / Enjoyed their socials and their sports, . . . / While in the hills, where coyotes go, / The coyotes knew what coyotes know.” Frampton’s (My Beastie Book of ABC, 2002, etc.) heavy woodcuts, colored mostly with browns and terra-cottas, perfectly capture the roughness and the elegance of this desert town, both in imagined former glory and in today’s ruins. Siebert (Motorcycle Song, 2002, etc.) captures the excitement and the melancholy of Rhyolite’s story with driving iambic tetrameter that pushes the narrative on to its inevitable conclusion. As nonfiction in a poetic form, this is almost perfect. (author’s note) (Picture book/poetry/nonfiction. 6-10)