Rocks in His Head

Overview

Some people collect stamps. Other people collect coins. Carol Otis Hurst's father collected rocks. Nobody ever thought his obsession would amount to anything. They said, "You've got rocks in your head" and "There's no money in rocks." But year after year he kept on collecting, trading, displaying, and labeling his rocks. The Depression forced the family to sell their gas station and their house, but his interest in rocks never wavered. And in the end the science museum he had visited so often realized that a ...

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Overview

Some people collect stamps. Other people collect coins. Carol Otis Hurst's father collected rocks. Nobody ever thought his obsession would amount to anything. They said, "You've got rocks in your head" and "There's no money in rocks." But year after year he kept on collecting, trading, displaying, and labeling his rocks. The Depression forced the family to sell their gas station and their house, but his interest in rocks never wavered. And in the end the science museum he had visited so often realized that a person with rocks in his head was just what was needed.

Anyone who has ever felt a little out of step with the world will identify with this true story of a man who followed his heart and his passion.

A young man has a lifelong love of rock collecting that eventually leads him to work at a science museum.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW wrote, "With great affection, Hurst recounts the story of her father, an avid rock collector from boyhood. The artwork evokes both the personality of this endearing protagonist and the period in which he lived." Ages 5-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Anyone with rocks in his head must be crazy, right? Look a bit more closely, though, and there may be something very special about those rocks—and the person with rocks in his head. The father in this story has collected rocks since he was a young boy. When he grew up he wanted to do something with rocks, even though he was told "there's no money in rocks." He ended up opening a gas station, pumping gas, changing tires and fixing Model Ts...still collecting rocks and always ready to pull the newest find out of pocket. When the depression forced him to close his filling station and rain kept him from looking for another job, he went to the science museum "looking for rocks that are better than mine." He was hired as a janitor but he spent so much time scrubbing the rocks in the mineral cases that the director put him in charge of the rocks, even though the board of directors usually didn't hire people without college degrees. "I told them I need somebody with rocks in his head and rocks in his pockets. Are you it?" asked the director. "Maybe I am," said the father. This gentle story of persistence and curiosity is illustrated in softly colored, cartoon-style sketches. 2001, Greenwillow Books, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 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 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060294038
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 276,127
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Otis Hurst is a storyteller, teacher, children's book critic, and columnist for Teaching K-8 Magazine. She is the author of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book Rocks in His Head.

James Stevenson is an op-ed contributor to the New York Times. His popular column, "Lost and Found New York," has appeared regularly in the newspaper since 2003. He was on the staff of The New Yorker for more than three decades; his work includes 2,000 cartoons and 80 covers, as well as reporting and fiction. He is also the author and illustrator of over 100 children's books. He lives in Connecticut.

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