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Review of Charlotte and the Rock

martin_charlotte and the rockCharlotte and the Rock
by Stephen W. Martin; illus. by Samantha Cotterill
Preschool, Primary    Dial    32 pp.
3/17    978-1-101-99389-7    $16.99    g

“Charlotte wanted a pet. She didn’t care what kind of pet.” However, she doesn’t expect the pet her parents enthusiastically surprise her with on her sixth birthday: a rock. (“You rock!” says the card.) Charlotte, gracious and true to her word, finds the rock to be a good listener, quiet, easy to train, and hypoallergenic. There are (amusingly illustrated) drawbacks, but eventually she and her rock become good friends. With each vignette, the pen-and-ink art subtly gives the large, round rock more life. In the scene where they go swimming (the rock wears a floaty), air bubbles rise from the rock (whom Charlotte names Dennis), just as they do from Charlotte. Midway through the book, the text confesses, “Charlotte loved her pet so so so very much. But she couldn’t help wishing that it could love her back.” This sad revelation keeps Dennis awake that night until — “CRRRRRACK!” — out hatches a dinosaur in time to give Charlotte a much-needed hug. Her parents, though obviously shocked, accept the large, friendly creature, who is unquestionably a match for Charlotte (they share the same rosy cheeks, freckles, and spectacles). The sharp, declarative text and warm, funny illustrations make Charlotte and Dennis (both before and after hatching) an irresistible pair.

From the March/April 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Julie Roach About Julie Roach

Julie Roach manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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