The Rock Box
by Don McKay
illustrated by Sally McKay
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides, 2023
$15.99 (sc), 34 pp, ages 7 – 10
Petra loves rocks. She collects them and stores them everywhere in the house. Petra’s parents aren’t as passionate about rocks, especially when they find rocks in the kitchen, on the couch, or in their shoes! The family comes to a compromise, allowing her to keep her collection but not in the house: they move all her rocks into a garden and give her a rock box housing a smaller collection to keep inside the house. When they go on summer vacation, Petra brings her rock box to compare her geological specimens with the various rock formations. Her parents enjoy ice cream and lying by the water while Petra scans for fossils and minerals. Everything is great until she leaves her rock box outside when the family has to quickly run from a rainstorm! The worry and whimsy blend well at the turning point of this narrative, leaving the reader relieved and happy in the end.
This text is a delightful mix of science and language arts. It’s a page-turner from start to finish, with captivating combinations of full-colour illustrations and black-and-white diagrams (with labels!). The Rock Box is sure to engage readers and listeners, young and old. I wish there was one for every province, territory, and childhood passion in Canada!
Classroom Connections: This text can be a springboard for the study of rocks and minerals; a discussion/journal prompt for students’ passions/ collections; a “minds-on” activity for community building around names and nicknames; dissected for plot-diagram study; or an exemplar for students to create their own story about collections, travel, geology, or family compromise. Reading comprehension strategies: making connections, visualizing, inferring, transforming.
Review by Amanda Parker.
This review is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Winter 2024 issue.