Leslie McGuirk: If Rocks Could Sing – a discovered alphabet

Rock styling and props by the author

Photographs by Denise Ritchie

Published by Tricycle Press, Random House, 2011

“This is a book born from the sea. Some people walk the beach searching for shells, all the while passing by the little rocks that make up this book. This collection began more than 10 years ago, as I discovered rocks on the Florida seashore that looked like letters. It became a real passion of mine to complete the entire alphabet…Finding these letters, and rocks that looked like objects to match them, was a process of believing that anything is possible.”

I love the idea that life has serendipitous moments. Sometimes we are in the right place at just the right time, and what was a dream becomes a reality.

For Leslie McGuirk, it has been her dream to create an alphabet using only the sandstone rocks that she could find by fossicking on the Florida seashore. It’s astonishing that she did! All the letters of the alphabet have been discovered, the end papers revealing the complete set.

We begin with A for addition and move on to B for bird and C for couch potato. Cleverly selected rocks resemble the objects that begin with that letter. There is a ‘rock’ bird in a nest, ‘rock’ numbers for addition and a ‘rock’ couch potato resting on a pink satin chaise lounge.

In some ways, it is just another alphabet book. But in other ways, it is the result of so much looking, patience and hope, and a tribute to one person’s perseverance, perspective, and belief that the project could be completed.

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-4 years and below are more suggestions for picture books which explore the twenty-six letters of our amazing alphabet:

Eating the Alphabet: Fruit & Vegetables from A to Z
by Lois Ehlert

A is for Angry: an animal and adjective alphabet
by Sandra Boynton

Eric Carle’s ABC by Eric Carle

The Wiggles: Emma’s Ballet Alphabet by The Wiggles

Letters from Australia
by Maree Coote

F is for Fox by DK Publishing Illustrated by Marc Pattenden

Flora Forager ABC
by Bridget Beth Collins

A-Z of Australian Animals
by Jennifer Cossins

A is for Atom: a Midcentury Alphabet by Greg Paprocki

A to Z Story of Australian Animals by Sally Morgan
Illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

Alpha by Isabelle Arsenault

Black and White Rabbit’s ABC
by Alan Baker

An Alphabet of Stories
by Oliver Jeffers

Lucy & Tom’s ABC
by Shirley Hughes

Once Upon an ABC
by Sophie Masson
Illustrated by Chris Nielsen

A by Paul Thurlby

ABC Alphabet by Chihiro Takeuchi

Alison Lester’s ABC by Alison Lester

M is for Mutiny: History by Alphabet by John Dickson Illustrated by Bern Emmericks

Mog’s ABC by Judith Kerr