HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Rocks in My Pockets
Authors: Marc Harshman and Bonnie Collins
Illustrator: Toni Goffe
Publisher: Quarrier Press, republished in 2002
ISBN-13: 978-0525650553 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0525650555 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-1891852237 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 189185223X (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-5 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Harshman, Marc, and Collins, Bonnie. Rocks in My Pockets (published in 1991 by Dutton Juvenile). The Woods family lives on a farm on the highest mountain in an area of Appalachia where crops are puny but there are lots of rocks which serve in many ways, both practical and recreational. Because of the severe wind, the Woodses need to carry rocks as ballast in their pockets, where they get polished in the process, so they won’t be blown away. They also play games with the rocks, hold them while listening to stories, and heat them in winter to warm their beds. One day two fancy women come from the city, see the beautifully gleaming rocks, and negotiate to buy some. When swarms of people coming to their home to buy rocks, what will happen to the Woods family’s way of life?
The authors, Marc Harshman and Bonnie Collins, are both experienced storytellers. They give the Woods family the true folksy feeling that they deserve and recount their tall tale with dry understatement that makes it all the funnier. The story is simply told, yet moves along at a comfortable pace that will keep children both interested and involved. Illustrator Toni Goffe’s lively and wickedly satirical pen-and-watercolor cartoons, especially of the characters’ expressions and stances. are pleasing and full of motion, adding to the humor of the situation. There is also a subtle but distinct message about value packaged in this offbeat, entertaining tale. In addition, elementary-aged readers are shown an example of resourcefulness when something as simple as an overabundance of rocks is found useful, and they will learn that problem-solving skills often come from one’s own imaginative ideas.