Young boy skipping stonesIt’s amazing how many things escape notice mostly because we get used to seeing them. The stepping stone by the playground, the rocks dug out of the garden, the pile of pebbles beside the pond.

But if you and your kids look closer–if you gaze at the speckles or rub the rough surface, then you might discover a resting rock, a wishing rock, a splashing rock or a sifting rock. You might find a rock that “feels easy in your hand” or that holds “the shape of something that lived long, long ago,” according to If You Find a Rock, a poetic picture book by Peggy Christian, written for ages 5 to 10.

The book captures childhood moments of wonder: the pleasure of jumping across stones that “wait to meet your feet” or of letting a handful of pebbles “slide slowly through your fingers.” The accompanying photographs by Barbara Hirsch Lember beautifully convey this feeling of curiosity and awe. Most portray children enjoying the outdoors on their own.

Do you or your kids tuck stones in your pockets or keep a pebble on a bedroom shelf? If so, you can probably relate to rocks that seem reminiscent of “a place or a feeling or someone important.” I carry two stones every day in my right pocket. The first–smooth, kidney-shaped, steady as hope–was found during a time of worry and sadness. The other is rose-colored and round. It holds the memory of a perfect, ordinary day spent with family by a river.

My daughter arranges her rocks and bits of sea glass in a shallow dish she painted when she was five. Smooth, jagged, firm, gray, white–what memories might these stones shelter for her?

Mary QuattlebaumMary Quattlebaum is the author of 15 award-winning children’s books, including Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns (Random House) and two chapter-book sequels, all set in a city community garden. Check for activities connected with Mary’s books.

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Published: November 10, 2008