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September 2011

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if rocks could sing: a discovered alphabet by leslie mcguirk!


#31 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." ~ Jonathan Swift





Oh. My. God.

This has got to be the most astonishing alphabet collection ever -- the coolest of the cool, the most unique and inspiring gift from nature anyone has ever received!

Some time ago, author/illustrator Leslie McGuirk began taking a closer look at the sedimentary rocks on a stretch of Florida beach near her home. These fascinating natural sculptures, smoothed and shaped by thousands of years of wave action, consisted of grains of sand and fossilized shell fragments "glued together" by a chemical in the seawater. Yes, they were all amazing and beautiful, each in its own way, but it was Leslie who noticed that some resembled letters of the alphabet.   

        
    
She soon became obsessed (my kind of woman), and began collecting these special letter rocks, as well as rocks resembling objects beginning with each letter. She did this for over ten years. Patient, persistent, eyes open, heart waiting. One by one, they revealed themselves to her. And now, she's sharing her collection with the world in her brand new book, If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet (Tricycle Press, 2011), which will be officially released on Tuesday, May 24th!

In her Author's Note, "Rock Talk," Leslie says: "Finding these letters, and rocks that looked like objects to match them, was a process of believing that anything is possible. These are beautiful sculptures, little works of art. I feel honored to share these rocks with the world. These compositions are intended to allow these rocks to speak for themselves . . . and for us to imagine what we would hear if rocks could sing." 

Leslie is here today to tell us more. You will no doubt be inspired to take a closer look at the world around you and marvel anew at the wonders of nature.

Jama: How and why did you start collecting alphabet shaped rocks?

Leslie: When I first moved to Florida, I started looking for shells, but they were all broken and not very interesting. So my brain switched gears and started to notice the rocks, which were truly odd little shapes. They became a total fascination for me. Suddenly I noticed letters, like L and C, which are easy to find, and then I started to think about writing out a word in stone. The obsession began!

Jama: What was the first alphabet rock you found?

Leslie: Probably a C or an L or an I. Those are pretty common.



Jama: Do you have a favorite?

Leslie: For sure the letter K, as I still have only one, after 10 years of looking. The M and W, which can be reversed, are also very rare.

Jama: Tell us about when the letter K finally appeared and how you felt.

Leslie: I knew that I did not have a book without a K, and it was driving me nuts that I could not find it. I was actually walking with a friend, and he found it, and I remember thinking, "OMG! It finally appears and I didn't even find it!" I think there is a lesson in there somewhere -- for me, of course! It's all about trusting, letting go, and allowing others to help!

Jama: Aside from the unique satisfaction of completing this collection, what has this experience taught you? Has it changed your approach to art; are there any lessons applicable to living a creative life?

 

Leslie: For sure there are many lessons from these rocks. If you think about anything in your life, that you really really want, but it never seems to happen -- you have to let go and trust. The universe has its own timing, and it is not our timing. This is a hard lesson. We want what we want, and we want it in our timing. I could have gone out to the ocean and screamed, "HURRY UP! GIVE ME A LETTER K!" It would not have made a bit of difference. I just had to trust, and know that one day, it would be there . . . and probably not the way I would have expected. Which was true! Since I never actually found it! A friend did! So it was a gift from the sea and from a friend, too.

Jama: Will there be a rock numbers book (or have you started any other rock collections)?

Leslie: I have hundreds of rocks that did not make this book. I am really wanting to do another book! I just have to find the hook for the book! Numbers is a good idea. I could even do another alphabet book. Of course, the K might have to be repeated, but not the object! But then again, I may find another K, right? I am always looking for rocks and I have some real gems in my collection that did not make the book. Recently, a high end jewelry designer who works with very expensive stones, looked at my rocks and was blown away. In a weird way my stones are as precious as her stones. The other cool thing about this book is that the ocean made these rocks, not me. I am just the collector!

Jama: Thanks so much for sharing your alphabet rocks with all of us, Leslie. I tend to think that when it comes to collections of any kind, the objects find the person who is fated to be their most devoted and appreciative caretaker. What an honor!



If Rocks Could Sing was just named to the Top Ten of the Summer 2011 Indie Kids Next List, and has received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, which said, "McGuirk's stone collection stands alone for the sheer "Wow" factor that nature can create."

Everyone, pre-order your copies now! Here's a cool book trailer:






IF ROCKS COULD SING: A Discovered Alphabet
by Leslie McGuirk
published by Tricycle Press/Random House, May 2011
Endlessly fascinating and appropriate for all ages, 48 pp.
On shelves May 24, 2011.

♥ For more about Leslie and her books, check out her
official websiteIf Rocks Could Sing Facebook Page is here.

♥ Related post: My
review/interview with Leslie and Alex Von Bidder about Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant. Barkingly delicious!

♥ More alphabetica
here.

*Images from If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet copyright © 2011 by Leslie McGuirk. Published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved.

 Certified authentic alphabetica. Handmade just for you with love and the letter K.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

Comments

Magical!
Hear Hear! What a great lesson in patience :).
Wow!
Yep! :)
This is so whimsical and fun! I'm ordering Leslie's book. Thanks for the review, Jama.
Leslie is so talented and creative; I think it takes a very special person, one who's highly attuned and open to possibilities, to start such a collection.
I love this! Thanks for the review.
Glad it piqued your interest. Such a novel idea; I hope she does more "rocky" books :)!

(Anonymous)

tanita says:

Listen!
Do you hear that murmur? It is the sound of book committees, conversing about books which will win awards!

Oh, MAN, this is a MUST have book. I love the beach and the sea and finding shapes in ridiculous things like clouds and car grilles and kitchen appliances, and this -- THIS is the ultimate in shape-seeking.

Thanks for sharing!

Re: tanita says:

Yes, definitely the ultimate in shape seeking! Can't wait to see what she does with some of her other rocks.
I first read about this book a couple weeks ago and still haven't seen it in person, but it looks SO COOL.
Definitely cool. I like its crossover marketability, too. Children's book, gift book, novelty book, nature book, on and on.
Must have! Calling Hicklebees right now to order it. Wow!
Yay!
That is very, very cool. I also like her point that you can scream and demand, but it won't make things happen faster - you just have to trust and be patient sometimes.
Yeah, love her philosophy and outlook :)!
I want to walk a beach with her -- she could teach me to SEE!
Indeed!

(Anonymous)

I totally (heart) the whole concept and execution of this project! I hope she does more.

Tabatha
Me too. I imagine collecting these rocks is an ongoing passion, and with her creative mind she'll find new themes/concepts/ways to showcase them in future books.

Edited at 2011-05-17 02:50 pm (UTC)
So. Cool.

I love this. And will look for the book.
Yay! It's definitely beyond cool :). . .

(Anonymous)

Leslie and If Rocks Could Sing

Absolutely enchanting!! What an incredible gift Leslie has given...and congratulations on that patience, Leslie!

(Anonymous)

I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! It will be best friends with Baylor's EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK and Christian's IF YOU FIND A ROCK. What a beautiful concept, design, and testimony to patience and observation. Thank you Leslie and Jama! A.