Review Blog

Oct 24 2017

The secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

cover image

Flying Eye Books, 2017. ISBN 9781911171256
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Environment, Interdependence, Lighthouses, Shipping, Mountains. Erin Pike lives with her mother and dog, Archie, near by a large fishing village. Here sailors tell tales about Black Rock, stories that make people's hair curl. It is said that the mountain in the sea could move at will, and when it does it scratches ships as they pass by, its sides as sharp as a swordfish. It is able to smash a ship to pieces and is something to be feared. But Erin wants to see for herself. Often she hides on mum's boat but Archie always sniffs her out, but one day she hides herself so well, he misses her. When the boat passes by the rock, Erin topples into the sea, falling straight down into the gloomy waters by the rock. She is amazed to see such a variety of fishes and anchors, and when a hand reaches down and lifts her back up to the surface, and returns her to shore, no one believes Erin's story. But one day the ships go out with equipment needed to destroy Black Rock.
Erin rows out to the rock and stands on the claw that is ready to chew up Black Rock. Suddenly all the fish that live beneath and around Black Rock come to the surface shimmering in the moonlight. The sight changes the fishermen's plan, and the rock is saved.
This delightful story tells of the interdependence between people and their environment, of the duality of our relationship with the earth on which we live
A modern folk tale, the story has a mythic quality that will be eagerly read by younger readers, relishing being part of the adventure undertaken by Erin to see something for herself, and then bravely going out to save the rock.
The illustrations reflect the old movies of Saturday afternoon cinemas in the suburbs, with the circles of pictures, the highlighting of the action within a circle, the large bleak shots of the ships coming with their appalling equipment to destroy the rock. The retro appearance of the book is eye catching and will appeal to younger readers.
Fran Knight

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