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Sonderbooks Book Review of

If Rocks Could Sing

A Discovered Alphabet

by Leslie McGuirk


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If Rocks Could Sing
A Discovered Alphabet

by Leslie McGuirk

Review posted December 18, 2012.
Tricycle Press, Berkeley, 2011. 42 pages.
Starred Review

Quite simply, this book is wonderful.

It's an alphabet book where all the letters are made of rocks. What's more, all the objects that the letters start for are also made of rocks.

She's got some normal words for alphabet books with surprising rock shapes: e is for elephant. (Yes, the rock is shaped exactly like an elephant head!) i is for igloo. (Yes, an igloo-shaped rock, complete with a door.) L is for Lemon. r is for rabbit. You get the idea.

Then there are also some surprising words, with perfect rock illustrations: c is for couch potato. (A potato-shaped rock is resting on a couch.) J is for Joy. (Two happy faces smiling at one another.) O is for Ouch! (This rock looks like it's been punched in the nose.) T is for Toast. (I would not realize that rock was not a piece of bread if it weren't in this book.) And the book does pass the X test: X is for XOXO. The rock looks exactly like two people locked in an embrace.

At the end of the book, the author explains how her collection got started:

This is a book born from the sea. Some people walk the beach searching for shells, all the while passing by the little rocks that make up this book.

This collection began more than ten years ago, as I discovered rocks on the Florida seashore that looked like letters. It became a real passion of mine to complete the entire alphabet. For many years, I waited for the letter K to appear. There was nothing I could do to make it show up. I understood that nature has its own timing, and my job was to be aware and expectant. The natural world is rich with inspiration. Finding these letters, and rocks that looked like objects to match them, was a process of believing that anything is possible. These are beautiful sculptures, little works of art. I feel honored to share these rocks with the world. These compositions are intended to allow these rocks to speak for themselves . . . and for us to imagine what we would hear if rocks could sing.

This book will inspire the reader to start a collection of their own. Or at the very least to look at nature with fresh eyes. This is now among my favorite alphabet books.