Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Rocks, Minerals & Gems

Rocks, Minerals & Gems

Sean Callery, Miranda Smith
Photographer: Gary Ombler
For ages 9 and up
Scholastic Nonfiction, 2016   ISBN: 978-0545947190

We humans tend not to think about things that we do not see on a regular basis and so we often forget that under our feet treasures lie in the form of rocks, minerals and gems. Some of them are literally treasures because they are valuable, while others are treasures because they tell the story of our planet and offer geologists and other scientists a glimpse into the past.

In this fascinating book the authors help us to appreciate the rich natural (often underground) geological heritage that we humans have. The book is divided into three parts: Minerals, rocks, and gems.

Minerals are naturally occurring substances formed from elements that are solid at normal temperatures and pressures.  Most minerals are compounds of elements. They are formed in a variety of ways, and examples of minerals are copper, silver, and graphite. Gold is a mineral that contains only one element. Minerals have so many uses that they “are the mainstay of our world.” For example, iron is a mineral and it is hard to imagine what life on Earth would be like if we did not have iron.

Rocks are made from minerals, they form the Earth’s crust, and we use them in countless ways. Rocks belong in one of three families: igneous rocks (for example granite and basalt), sedimentary rocks (for example limestone and sandstone), and metamorphic rocks (marble and slate).

For many people the most exciting of the three categories explored in this book are the gems. These are ones, when cut, that sparkle and glow, the ones that people go to great lengths to get. Both women and men wear pieces of jewelry that showcase diamonds, emeralds, amethysts and other precious gems.

In each of the three categories readers will find pages where examples of minerals, rocks, and gems are described. We learn what the examples look like, how heavy they are, how they are used, and often interesting stories appear on the pages as well. For example, in Indian mythology it is said that if you put an emerald on your tongue you will see the future.

Even readers who are not rock hounds will find this book interesting. As we learn about minerals, rocks, and gems we not only learn about natural science. We also learn about human history and inventions, and we come across fascinating articles that help us to appreciate how these gifts of nature have shaped, and will no doubt continue to shape, the world that we live in.