________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 20. . . . June 6, 2003

cover A Pocketful of Rocks.

Deb Loughead.
Vancouver, BC: Hodgepog Books, 2001.
65 pp., pbk., $5.95.
ISBN 0-9686899-7-3.

Subject Heading:
Rocks-Collection and preservation-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Ruth Scales McMahon.

** /4

On the eve of Luke's entry into grade six, he and his family attend the annual air show at the Canadian National Exhibition on the shores of Lake Ontario. Rather than watch the Snowbirds, Luke spends his time looking for unusual rocks. He finds one he thinks is unique and takes it home. He is sure this rock looks familiar. "Something about the size and shape of it reminded me of a picture I'd once seen." Luke is reluctant to tell anyone about his suspicions as he is still being teased about the time he thought he had found a dinosaur bone.

     Luke's rock is continually disappearing or being confiscated: e.g. it turns up in his sister's turtle tank, his mother uses it as a hammer, his teacher confiscates it, the principal throws it out, the custodian uses it to keep a table level. But Luke has it in his hand when the class takes a surprise trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. He concocts a scheme to get away from his class so that he can authenticate the true nature of his rock. This time Luke is right in his assumptions about his find. and the dinosaur rock humiliation is left behind for good.

     A Pocketful of Rocks is not a page-turner, nor a great literary piece, but it does read well, and the story is compelling albeit somewhat contrived (notably in the recurring loss of the rock). The dialogue is suitable, the characters credible, and the conflicts move the plot along.

     One part of the story was not properly researched. Luke's friend, Griff, has returned from a summer vacation "out West." He gives Luke a rock from "Dinosaur Provincial Park." Luke upbraids Griff for not spending more time there.

"You didn't have time to look around? Drumheller is the coolest place on the planet. It's one of the biggest centres for fossils, and they keep finding more! What's wrong with your family?"

"I told you. They couldn't care less about rocks and fossils. They just wanted to say they had been there."

     The difficulty with this passage is that Dinosaur Provincial Park is 320 kilometers east (as the-crow-flies) of Calgary, while Drumheller, home to the world famous Tyrell Museum, is 220 kilometers northeast of Calgary with 230 kilometers separating these two sites. Dinosaur Provincial Park, among other things, is a field station for the Tyrell Museum.

Recommended with reservations.

Ruth Scales McMahon is a professional children's librarian, the co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award and the mother of two young children. When suggesting tourist destinations for family and friends from "the East," Ruth always tries to convince them that Dinosaur Provincial Park is at least as exciting a destination as the Tyrell Museum in Drumheller.


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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364