Rice & Rocks (Sandra L. Richards)

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.) 

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Rice & Rocks, written by Sandra L. Richards and illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan, a fantastic story about how food can bring cultures together.

Giovanni is looking forward to having his friends over for his family’s Sunday dinner, but is dismayed when he hears what his grandmother will be serving: Jamaican rice and beans or, as he calls them, rice and rocks! He is sure his friends won’t like such a weird dish, but his favorite Auntie and Jasper, his talking parrot, surprise him by offering to take a magical trip around the world to show Giovanni that, while he may not know it, there are plenty of cultures who enjoy “rice and rocks” as a part of their traditional meals!

Conceptually, this book is brilliant: tying different cultures together through their shared cuisine is, to my knowledge, a completely unique idea for a children’s book (SO many cultures use rice and beans as a staple food). It’s a brilliant way to show that no matter how dissimilar we may appear, we all enjoy the same foods. In execution, the book does extremely well: the dialogue is informative and entertaining, and the pace moves at a good clip for young readers. There are a few instances where characters could have been either cut, consolidated, or fleshed out more, but for the most part, each one is lots of fun, especially the other birds from the cultures they visit. Also, the length might be a bit much for very young baby bookworms, but older babies should handle it fine. The illustrations were another high point: they were colorful, highly detailed, and complimented the story very well (the food in particular looked delicious enough to eat)! Overall, this is an exceptionally unique book with a fantastic message and a great look, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!

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