A Rock Can be – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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rockTitle: A Rock Can Be

Written by: Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by: Violeta Dabija

Published by: Millbrook Press, 2015

Themes/Topics: rocks, nonfiction, poetry, rhyme

Suitable for ages: 5-8


A rock is a rock.                                                                                                                     It’s sand, pebble, stone.                                                                                                       Each rock tells a story,                                                                                                               a tale of its own.


A Rock Can Be follows the same form and concept as Water Can Be and A Leaf Can Be. It takes a very simple subject and poetically expounds on it with rich simplicity.

Salas begins with a rock being… / tall mountain/ park fountain / dinosaur bone / stepping stone…” and goes on, for example, to include how it can be used to grind food for chucks (Food grinder), or stretch out into a curvy path (Path winder), or create a stone barrier around a harbor (Harbor protector), and link communities by bridges (Land connector).

The text is written in smooth articulate rhyme, abcb, and includes some very unusual facts about the role rocks play in our world.

Why I like This Book:

It is a skill that can take years to hone and is at the heart of great picture book writing – the use of sparse, simple lyrical language to expand an idea or concept with depth and beauty. Laura Purdie Salas achieves this in these three books with quiet panache, while also imparting some unusual nonfiction truths.

Violeta Dabija’s illustrations sing the same natural song as Salas’ text and are warm, innate and inspirational. They invite you to explore the beauty of your surroundings and discover the flow and force even in the inanimate.

I would definitely incorporate this on any science unit on rocks, and in a poetry class, of course.


  • There is informational text in the back with a glossary and further reading.
  • Salas is the author of over 125 poetry and nonfiction books for kids and I highly recommend checking out more of her work on her website. http://www.laurasalas.com
  • Give a writing prompt for students combining research on a topic and then creating a visual poem about that topic.
  • Check out this great interview and video with Laura Purdie Salas on the poetry blog No water River

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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30 Responses to A Rock Can be – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Manju Howard says:

    I’m writing a picture book in rhyme. Not easy. The process helps me appreciate the talent of writers such as Laura Purdie Salas. I’m sure A Rock Can Be is a great mentor text for me. 🙂

  2. Joanna says:

    Do pick it up, Manju. Laura manages perfect meter with story and surprise all wrapped in delightful read-aloud language.

  3. I love this and the other books in Laura’s series. They are deceptively simple and greatly creative, helping us see ordinary things in new ways.

  4. Wendy Greenley says:

    I love Laura’s work and will be looking for this. When we moved back to the US the heaviest box was our family’s rock collection!

  5. Joanna, your review is beautiful and you really capture the essence of the book. I loved Laura’s “A Leaf Can Be.” I know this book is a gem! Her poetry is so quiet and lyrical. Thank you for including the video of Laura reading her “Hyperphobic” book on Renee’s blog. I used to have a rock collection as a child, so I like how she encourages a child to think what the rock might become. I think kids do this naturally, so they will have great a great time imagining about rocks.

  6. Sorry for the title error – “Hydrophobiac.”

  7. Andrea says:

    Sounds lovely! A good classroom book.

  8. It is so deceptively simple, isn’t it. Easy peasy…NOT! Thanks for putting up Laura’s book, Joanna. Somehow she finds a way (through many revisions, I’m sure) to say exactly the right thing with exactly the right words…and so few of them. 😉

  9. Good poetry for kids is my new favorite thing to read to motivate my own writing – knock my ‘block’ off! Thanks for sharing another with me, Joanna!

  10. Catherine says:

    Great review, Joanna! I love this series and look forward to reading the rock one.

  11. Thanks for this recommendation. I just love Laura’s work and her dedication to her readers. I’m sure this will be as lovely as her others books.

  12. What an amazing talent to be able to convey so much in such minimal rhyming text. Such an educational treasure with beautiful illustrations. Thanks for sharing Joanna.

    • Joanna says:

      Diane, I invited Violeta to interview on the blog but sadly she declined because English isn’t her mother tongue (even though I told her that doesn’t matter!

  13. Thank you so much for this lovely post, Joanna–and to everyone who left such nice comments! I just came across this, and it’s a great cheerer-upper at the end of a kind of difficult week. I really appreciate all the kind words:>)

  14. great review. I love this book, from the bright yellow cover to the back matter. Love it so much that I’ll be reviewing it next week over at Archimedes Notebook …

  15. Laura Purdie Salas is so talented! Had the good fortune of hearing her at a conference a few years ago–she makes it sound easy! Thanks for the review!

  16. laurie says:

    I am putting this one on my “read to grandkids” list! Love your review.

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