The secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

cover image

Flying Eye Books, 2017. ISBN 9781911171256
(Age: 5 - 8) Recommended. Sea. Marine life. Persistence. Out in the sea lies Black Rock, a large strange mass that is said to destroy any boat that comes near it. Erin loves to watch the water looking at the fish, and longs to go out on the fishing boat with her mother. She often hides on board but her dog Archie would sniff her, until one day she came up with a cunning plan and managed to stay hidden. But then disaster strikes in the fog and she gets swept off the boat and sinks down, down into the ocean, where the Black Rock is lurking, a home to a myriad of sea creatures. Then she uncovers Rock Rock's secret - but will she be able to convince the villagers not to destroy it.
On an initial read, this may prove to be a strange story that doesn't quite make sense, but a second closer perusal will have the reader discovering that this is a picture book where you have to both read the text and look very carefully at the pictures to find out what is going on. This makes it a most challenging, interesting, and thought provoking read.
The illustrations are fascinating, with dark foreboding colours for the rock and the sea while the sea creatures and machinery, boats and people are brightly coloured. The marine life that is pictured as Erin falls deep into the sea is beautifully drawn, but it is the double page spread that the reader has to turn sideways to discover what Rock Rock is, that will most delight the reader.
Erin is an irresistible heroine, brave and clever. She manages to outwit her mother and her dog to stay on board the fishing boat and is courageous enough to climb out an upper storey window to go and rescue the Black Rock.
This is a picture book that will reward readers who pay attention to details and who delight in adventure stories.
Pat Pledger