Review of The Rock from the Sky

The Rock from the Sky
by Jon Klassen; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick    96 pp.    g
4/21    978-1-5362-1562-5    $18.99

In this collection of five connected short stories, clocking in at over ninety pages and composed solely of dialogue, Klassen introduces readers to a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake — all in hats, of course. And because this is a deeply strange set of stories, there is also an alien creature and the book title’s meteor. As with I Want My Hat Back (rev. 11/11), font colors are assigned to each character, providing clues as to who is speaking. The first story is all about a close call; the second, saving face; the third, a fantastical creature from the future (a gigantic eyeball on six towering legs that can shoot fire from its pupil); the fourth, a failed attempt to appreciate beauty; and the fifth, hurt feelings. Klassen masterfully builds suspense, particularly in the first story: readers know that a massive rock is falling from the sky, while characters continually change (precarious) position on the page. (No worries: no animals were harmed in the making of this book, though the same can’t be said for an orange flower and, eventually, the alien visitor.) Throughout, Klassen’s characteristically deadpan humor refuses to patronize readers; he lets them in on the joke, as always, by putting them one step ahead of the protagonists. Smart, funny, and offbeat, this is quintessential Klassen.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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