What are rocks? How are they created? How are they used in our daily lives? What incredible beauty is hidden inside some rocks? All these questions (and more) are answered in A Rock Is Lively, from Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long, the author and illustrator team who created A Butterfly Is Patient and A Seed Is Sleepy. Every grade 4 teacher in this province needs to add this book to their read-aloud collection. Visually stunning and gently poetic, it brings life to the often-dry subject of rocks and minerals.
Aston and Long present rocks in ways you may not have thought of before: as material for building structures such as the Taj Mahal, surfaces for artwork (think pictographs), and tools used by animals. Who knew crocodiles swallow rocks to help them dive deeper? The book includes definitions of different types of rock and how they are formed (such as sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous), and two beautiful pages illustrate and explain what geodes and agates are. The language in the definitions would be easy to understand for most Junior students. There are also several text elements to this book, such as photo captions, varying text styles, and sketch labels.
One intriguing feature of this book is that the first two pages, before the text begins, have illustrations of about 50 rocks, unlabelled. The last two pages show the same illustrations, with labels. A clever study tool, perhaps? Students will want to reread this book, to see all the fine detail and interesting illustrations up close. All this makes for an interesting and appealing read that supports many expectations for grade 4 Rocks and Minerals units.
Karen Brunner-Gilmore is on leave from the Renfrew Country Teacher Local.