Reviews for If Rocks Could Sing : A Discovered Alphabet

Booklist Reviews 2011 May #1
A writer/illustrator of picture books, McGuirk knew she was on to something when she strolled along the Florida seashore, picked up interesting rocks, and found several that resembled letters. Determined to collect the whole alphabet, she waited more than 10 years to find the letters that provide the framework for this creative alphabet book. Each appears on a page along with another rock or rocks illustrating a sentence, such as "b is for bird," which shows a birdlike stone sitting beside an egg in a nest. Although some rocks need no visual context, such as the remarkable elephant head photographed for "e is for elephant," others, such as the rock illustrating "m is for mitten," are definitely stronger for association with photographed objects, such as the knitted mitten shown beside the stone one. With clean page design, restrained use of color, and minimal text, this intriguing book showcases the rocks themselves and may inspire children to discover their own found art. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
McGuirk uses rocks from her collection to form both the letters and items they stand for in this creative alphabet book. The sea-worn rocks made of fossilized sandstone look uncannily like the real things. The book could be a catalyst for collectors and naturalists; an author's note describes how she waited "for many years...for the letter K to appear." Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2

With sharp eyes, endless patience and vivid imagination, McGuirk seeks and finds rocks in the shapes of alphabet letters and items representing those letters.

Using these finds and some inventive photography, she has created a most unusual alphabet book. The opening spread lays out all the amazingly accurate stone letters (some uppercase, some lowercase) on a background of soft, natural, earthy beige. Each letter is given its own page, and some have a double-page spread. The letter-shaped rock names the shape—as in "e is for elephant"—and the remarkable rock shapes either stand alone or are given props. The "ghost" rocks float eerily on a black background, while "K is for kick" aims a foot-shaped rock at a bright-orange ball. The seahorse floats among seaweed, and a rock mitten is paired with one made of wool. Some of the more conceptual references stretch the imagination a bit, and little ones may need some explanation. For "U is for up," two animal-shaped rocks play on a seesaw; too bad there was no umbrella or unicorn rock to be found. The ever-difficult "x" is the only disappointment; "x is for xoxo" depicts a pudgy figure that kind of resembles two people kissing, but this may be a stretch for children. An author's note provides additional information about McGuirk's dedicated collection process.

Begs to be pored over again and again. (Alphabet book. 3-10)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #2

McGuirk has assembled a collection of 26 rocks shaped like every letter of the alphabet, plus many more shaped like objects for each letter. "A is for Addition," McGuirk starts, with a chalkboard slate on the right photographed with rocks shaped like a one, eight, an equal sign, and a nine (a magnet stands in for the plus sign). For "D," there's a dog-shaped rock with a collar, and "G is for Ghost" shows 16 amorphous stones with wailing mouths and empty eyes. It's an unusual labor of love that may have kids checking the ground for familiar shapes. All ages. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May

PreS-Gr 1--This unique alphabet book features photos of ocean-sculpted rocks lovingly collected over the course of a decade by the author. McGuirk amassed a complete alphabet of letter-shaped rocks, which she pairs with other humorously representational geologic findings. She puts the emphasis on the rocks themselves, employing simple text, solid backgrounds, and spare, yet engaging layouts to showcase her finds. Additional whimsical embellishments are occasionally used to complete the imaginative leap for the book's audience, though there is no need to rely on such additions for the letters all are easily recognizable. The collection ranges from a dog-shaped rock chained to a tiny wooden doghouse ("D is for dog") and a boot-shaped stone kicking an orange ball ("K is for kick") to an array of pale faces set against a dark backdrop ("G is for ghosts") and a pair of fish-shaped rocks with perfect smiling faces ("J is for joy"). Each image invites discovery and, once recognized by readers, will evoke amazement, laughter, or sighs of satisfaction. While reminiscent of Saxton Freymann's vegetable creations, McGuirk's stones stand alone for the sheer "wow" factor that nature can create. This concept book will be at home in storytimes and classroom read-aloud sessions, though children may wish to take it home and give each stone a closer look. Sure to spark imaginative rock-finding hunts and found-object art projects, this quirky title will earn its place in any picture-book collection.--Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

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