A boy collects rocks that inspire his imagination while coping with school.
Ian Goobie is a white boy with poofy, curly red hair. He always dreads school because, despite his school aide, a white man named BJ, he “could not do the things everyone else could do.” When he starts to collect rocks that trigger his vivid imagination, he finds he is able to better cope with the difficulties of everyday life—until his pants become so heavy with rocks that they fall down in front of his peers. Mortified, Ian is inconsolable until he meets a white storyteller who announces to the class that he also keeps a rock in his pocket, even as an adult. Thanks to this storyteller, Ian is no longer ostracized, he successfully spells his name with rocks, and he gains self-confidence. While Ian exhibits some behaviors that indicate he may not be neurotypical, the text never identifies or even suggests what his disabilities might be, missing an opportunity to truly provide a window or mirror for readers. Supporting characters are mostly white like Ian, although Ian’s one Asian classmate has noticeably slanted eyes, unlike any of his peers. Flook’s illustrations appear unintentionally dated, with character apparel reminiscent of the 1990s.
Well-intentioned but misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-7)