cover image ROCKS IN HIS HEAD


Carol Otis Hurst, , illus. by James Stevenson. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029403-8

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. (May)