Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The secret of black rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

White-haired Erin Pike and her dog Archie live in a small, colorful house near a village. The main source of income is fishing and Erin would love to go to sea with her mom, but the legend of the terrible Black Rock keeps her on shore. Fisherfolk say it moves from place to place and crashes ships. But Erin is not afraid and continues to sneak onto her mom's boat. Then one day she is swept overboard - and meets Black Rock! It's nothing like what the fisherfolk think. In fact, it's alive and a haven for sea creatures. But can Erin save Black Rock from the fisherfolk when they come to destroy it?

While the text does not particularly shine, and ends rather abruptly with the sentence "After that night the Pikes built a small lighthouse on Black Rock, so it would always be safe from passing ships." the real star of this book and the reason I fell in love with it is the illustrations. Vibrant color splashes the pages, in the yellow of Erin's slicker, her red and yellow house, and the flashing fish that surround Black Rock. The rock itself, although first shown in various frightening guises in local legend and as a menacing black shadow in Erin's first encounter, slowly takes on a friendly look as Erin takes the chance to explore it and see it as a sentient being.

I'm really looking forward to using this in my book club for 1st - 3rd grade. The vocabulary will be a challenge for my younger readers, but it's one they can easily enjoy with a parent or older sibling. The art will spark all sorts of connections - we can focus on painting, creating layers, using glitter, and creating the same image from different perspectives. Of course, there's also the discussion it can spark - talking about facing fears, listening to others, and making new friends.

Verdict: Lovely art and plenty of food for thought, this is a strong addition to any picture book collection.

ISBN: 9781911171256; Published 2017 by Flying Eye Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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