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Rocks in His Head (Avenues) Hardcover – May 8, 2001


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Rocks in His Head (Avenues) + If You Find a Rock + Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough (Amazing Science)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 440L (What's this?)
  • Series: Avenues
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1st edition (May 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060294035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060294038
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With great affection and an appealing nostalgia, Hurst (Through the Lock, reviewed below) recounts the story of her father, an avid rock collector from the time he was a boy. When people commented that "he had rocks in his pockets and rocks in his head," he would answer with an agreeable "Maybe I have," then reach into his pocket and eagerly add, "Take a look at this one." This response, conveying both the hero's humility and passion, becomes a recurring refrain. Stevenson conveys the fellow's easygoing manner with elegant pen-and-ink wash illustrations. Together, author and artist chart the boy's growth into manhood and touch on the world events that shape him. As a young man, he opens a filling station, where he displays his labeled rocks and minerals and learns how to repair the then-new Model T. After the Depression shuts down his business, he moves his cherished collection into the attic of his home, finding odd jobs wherever he can. The story's conclusion will prove as satisfying to readers as it was to Hurst's father: the director of the local museum offers him a dream job the position of curator of mineralogy. Dominated by earth tones, Stevenson's artwork convincingly evokes both the personality of this endearing protagonist and the period in which he lived. An emphatic endorsement for youngsters to follow their passions. Ages 5-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-Hurst tells the story of her father's passion for rock collecting in this gently humorous picture book. "People said he had rocks in his pockets and rocks in his head. He didn't mind. It was usually true." As a boy, he collected rocks. When he grew up, his carefully labeled rock collection occupied a place of honor on the back wall of his filling station. However, once the Depression hit and the filling station closed, he had to look for work. When there was none to be found, he would go to the science museum, where he eventually attracted the attention of the director. A stint as the nighttime janitor, combined with his unquenchable love for rocks, eventually led to his being named Curator of Mineralogy, despite his lack of a college degree. The narrative has the polish of a family story often told, and the author paints a touching picture of a man who quietly pursues his passion, no matter what others think. Stevenson's watercolor-and-ink illustrations, with their trademark sketchy style, capture the mild-mannered hero perfectly. Rendered in a palette of soft sepia tones, these warm pictures call to mind an earlier era. Pair this book with Lynne Barasch's Radio Rescue (Farrar, 2000), a similar biographical tale set in days gone by.
Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A nice combination.
J. Paul
This picture book tells the true story of the author's father, who collected rocks and dreamed of working with them in some way.
Ohioan
This is the perfect book for a child who likes to pick up rocks, or even who likes to collect just about anything.
Arlington Arlo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Crocker on June 17, 2001
Format: Library Binding
An amateur is someone who does something for the love of it and the main character of Carol Otis Hurst's wonderful, beautiful Rocks in his Head is the epitome of an amateur. In this well illustrated story, Ms. Hurst recounts the story of her father, a rockhound who was dissuaded from making a career of his first love. We follow him through his life from successful gas station owner to family man struggling to make ends meet during the Depression, all the while lovingly collecting, cataloguing, and caring for an ever expanding rock and mineral collection. The payoff comes when her dad gets a job at the local science museum after the director notices his interest in minerals and then views his personal collection. The father goes on to become the curator of the museum's mineral collection. James Stevenson's illustrations perfectly compliment this story of a triumphant amateur. Children's books with true stories like this one usually have a summary page after the end of the story to give details left out of the main book. Unfortunately, details like the father being sent to college by the director and his eventual rise to director of the museum are left for the dust jacket, a part of a children's book that is often lost. Other than this minor criticism, I think this is a 5-star book and wish there were many more like this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Arlington Arlo on October 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just discovered this book. This is the perfect book for a child who likes to pick up rocks, or even who likes to collect just about anything. The drawings are about as charming as any book I ever saw. I love the themes of having a passion and educating yourself about what interests you, but also the excitement of being "discovered" for what you are best at. And when you least expect it. A fabulous book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "gofrogs" on November 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My children , ages 8 and 6, love this book. I like the message of following your dreams and passions through hard times and no matter what other people may say. We also used the book to discuss the Great Depression and rocks and minerals. I highly recommend this book!!.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is narrated by a rock-collector's son. He starts off telling how his father worked at a gas station. He displayed his large rock collection at the station where he worked. Many people came to talk, look at the rocks, and play chess with the father. Then the Great Depression started and the father had one job a day. He still found time to go to the museum and look at rocks. The museum manager noticed him and she gave him a job as a janitor there. Then he was found switching the rock labels because he knew they were wrong. After this happened he was moved up to museum currator. I like this book because to me, it is about following your dreams.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on February 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Some people collect stamps. Some people collect coins or dolls or bottle caps. When he was a boy, my father collected rocks. When he wasn't doing chores at home or learning at school, he'd walk along stone walls and around old quarries, looking for rocks. People said he had rocks in his pockets and rocks in his head. He didn't mind. It was usually true." So begins Carol Otis Hurst's inspiring biography of her father and his lifelong passion for rocks and minerals. In simple and gentle prose, we follow the story of his life, how he grew up and married, opened a successful filling station, lost his business during the depression, and finally while looking for odd jobs and work met Grace Johnson, the Director of the Science Museum. Ms Johnson was so impressed with his knowledge, dedication, and love of rocks that she to gave him a steady job as night janitor at the museum so that he could work around rocks, and that as they say, was just the beginning..... Ms Hurst's fascinating story is beautifully enhanced by James Stevenson's spare and touching pen and ink illustrations, done in quiet earth tones, that really capture the life and times of this very endearing man. With an afterword to complete her uplifting story on the jacket flap, Rocks In His Head is an engaging and nostalgic little treasure that's perfect for youngsters 5-9, and is told with great insight and affection. Never be afraid to follow your dream!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the life story of the narrator's father, a self-educated man who managed to become museum curator due to his passion for rocks. When the narrator's father was a young boy, he collected rocks everywhere he went. When he grew up, he ran a gas station and kept his rocks on shelves for customers to look at. The gas station went under during the Depression. After hunting around, the man eventually stumbled into a job as a night janitor at the Museum of Science. He was quite happy with this job because he got to polish the rocks in the exhibits. Eventually he was even promoted to the position of curator of the museum because of his expertise with the rocks, even though he lacked a college education. The story is quite appealing for older kids. With 1250 words, it may be a bit long for the young ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Mundstock on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was priviledged to meet the author and take a workshop given by her. She was and is a great story-teller! I read this book to my second graders and they loved it. It tells how her father followed his love of rocks and minerals into his dream occupation: curator at a museum. It was a long, slow road, but he always had a rock in his pocket and a story to tell about it. My students repeated the line: "Take a look at this one..." each time it was read. I combined it with Gail Gibbons' book Dragonflies, Diamonds and Dinosaurs, which is about a Natural History Museum. We followed up with a nonfiction book about rocks and minerals. It was a series that held high interest for my students and me.
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