Friday, February 9, 2024

Today's read... What a Rock Can Reveal by Maya Wei-Haas

Today's read isn't only nonfiction (and young readers love nonfiction) but also hits a topic, which makes my own kids smile. I can't even begin to guess the tons of rocks that have gone through my household thanks to my little hunters over the years. I have a bay window in the dining room, which I've had to clear off boxes full several times and move those precious finds to a 'special' area in the yard. Even now, my youngest (who isn't extremely young, anymore) spends hours and hours rock hunting along a creek at the edge of our property. It's brought a wealth of finds over the years, thanks to the occasional flooding (which causes other issues but is great for her rock collections).

So, I'm excited to see what this book might hold.

Where They Come From and What They Tell Us About Our Planet
by Maya Wei-Haas
Illustrated by Sonia Pulido
Phaidon Press
Picture Book Nonfiction
48 pages
ages 6 to 9


A stunningly illustrated, informative introduction to the wonders of rocks and minerals and what they can tell us about our planet.  Award-winning science writer and geologist, Maya Wei-Haas, introduces young readers to the fascinating world of rocks through the art of observation. Starting with a friendly question-and-answer format, she explores the diversity of rocks and minerals and how a rock’s shape, color, or texture help to tell the stories of how it was formed, where it comes from, and the incredible journeys it has had. 

This hands-on introduction reveals how rocks are time capsules of our planet’s past, recording the thrilling events that once built Earth’s incredible geology. The second in a series of visually stunning, scientifically engaging books that explore the natural world through everyday objects found in nature, this book follows on from the global children’s bestseller, What a Shell Can Tell. The text and vibrant illustrations expand on a child’s natural instinct to collect things, nurturing their interest and curiosity by giving them simple observation skills that will help them to explore the connections between objects found in nature, the wider environment, and Earth’s history.



Rocks become anything but boring in a read, which will have young readers looking at the ground a little closer than before.

This book is all about rocks and covers a broad spread of directions in a relatively quick read. Starting with a few common rocks, their names, and what they look like, the book than takes a deeper dive into rock traits and facts. Everything from the composition of granite to rock formation to the use of rocks in households to their presence in space hits these pages. And more. It builds an appreciation for the importance and presence of minerals in nature and life...and even hits some directions readers might not have considered before.

While running through various facts and information, the author keeps the journey from growing dull. The text is pretty concise and does a good job at staying at the intended audience level. While the concentration remains on science, the tone speaks with the reader and gives it a more personal feel. Familiar situations are also built in, when appropriate, to help demonstrate how rocks affect everyone's lives, and it does so in a more relaxed and light approach. The illustrations make sure the information sits and helps to demonstrate what is mentioned in the text, but they also portray familiar scenes, which inspire readers to head outdoors and enjoy the fun. One section awakens the travel-bug as it shows some of the amazing places in the world, which are formed by minerals. 

This is a well-done read about rocks and minerals, which hits a wide variety of topics in an engaging way. Of course, rock fans will enjoy this one, but it reaches beyond that to hit a larger span of interests. While it doesn't make the best read-aloud for group settings, it's great for classrooms and homeschoolers to explore. But even individual readers will enjoy this one.

And here they are...

Maya Wei-Haas is an award-winning science writer with a PhD in Earth Science. She was previously a staff reporter at National Geographic and an Assistant Editor of Science and Innovation at Now she writes for a variety of publications, including The New York Times and Science. This is her first children’s book. 

Sonia Pulido is an artist living in a seaside village close to Barcelona. What a Shell Can Tell, which she published in 2022 with Phaidon, was her first children’s book. Her illustrations have appeared in publications globally, including The New Yorker and The New York Times.


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