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Julie the Rockhound

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Julie the Rockhound
By Gail Langer Karwoski
Illustrated by Lisa Downey
Sylvan Del Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9764963-7-9

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - July 13, 2015

Julie does not begin life as a rockhound, but she quickly becomes one after finding a large shinny rock near her home. When she shows it to her dad, he tells that is it is a quartz crystal and begins to explain how quartz is formed. Thus begins the charming and informative picture book, Julie the Rockhound. Written by Gail Langer Karwoski, this book is geared toward readers in grade K-4. Not only does it offer an entertaining diversion for students, but in the process it also teaches them about quartz crystals. The information provided touches upon a range of subjects from what quartz is made from and how the crystals are formed, to the various aspects of the crystal such as the different forms it can take including amethyst, citrine, along with clear, white, rose and smoky quartz. As well as offering tidbits of information such as how quartz crystals have 'faces.' The text is further enhanced with engaging, realistic illustrations by Lisa Downey.

An additional feature of this book is that it includes a four-page section entitled "For Creative Minds." This educational section has four parts, all of which are geared toward teachers or parents who want to help their students/children further explore the topics discussed in this book in greater detail. There is a page devoted to quartz crystals and another that includes information on becoming a rockhound - from where to hunt for rocks and minerals to what items you may need to bring with you on your next expedition. There is also a page on the three different types of rocks (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic) that discusses how each type is formed. This page also includes some tasty experiments you can try out to learn more about how each type of rock is formed. The final page of this section deals with how minerals are classified, and it provides an overview of the Moh's Hardness Scale. A couple of question and answer segments are also included.

The combination of a cleverly crafted story along with the geological information contained in the "For Creative Minds" sections, makes this an ideal book for use in the classroom as well as in a home schooling setting. Parents who simply have an inquisitive reader or budding rockhound on their hands will also find that this book will not only encourage their child to read - but also expand their horizons when it comes to rock collecting.

Although the main character in this book is a 'girl,' both boys and girls will enjoy the story and learning about quartz crystals. I have to admit, after reading the story I'm a bit jealous of Julie, I've found tiny quartz crystals, but never anything as nice as Julie found! In addition, although this book is listed as geared toward those in grades K-4, it is also suitable as a read-out-loud book for non-readers and for older kids just getting started in rock collecting.

Related Reviews:

This Land is Your Land, by Catherine Ciocchi.
This is an innovative book that teaches children ages 4-8 about landforms and basic geological structures. Told in rhyme, this picture book is ideal for young readers and as a read-out-loud book for pre-readers.

The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook, by Garret Romaine.
A fun to read, and use, guidebook on the ins-and-outs of rock, fossil, and meteorite collecting, as well as offering insights into prospecting for gold. This handy guide also offers tips on getting outfitted for your rock collecting expeditions, and displaying your new treasures once you get them home.

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