Elspeth Lorraine

Book Reviews

March 29, 2024

"Hidden Gem" By Linda Liu

I am a rock enthusiast. For Christmas I got a rock tumbler. I’m tumbling right now! There is something so soothing about crouching down and picking out rocks to slide into your pocket. There might be a cabinet in my kitchen right now filled with shiny rocks. There also might be a small pile of geodes on my windowsill. You’ll never know! Legend has it some of my rocks have even been cleaned with a toothbrush. 

With my rocktastic lifestyle fully on display for my readers, I am proud to present Linda Liu’s debut Hidden Gems. A celebration of identity and … rocks. To begin, a rock tells us “I am a rock. I rock and roll and tumble.” We see a paper flyer whisking through the air straight at him advertising, “World’s Most Beautiful Gem” at his local museum. He and several other rocks line up, pass through the exhibits and marvel at all the beautiful rocks on display. “These rocks/shock and glow/and humble.” Our rock begins to think, is he even special? What makes him unique? Should he mold himself into another look? Or paint himself a brighter color? When he finally gets to the “World’s Most Beautiful Gem” he slowly approaches the large diamond. A most precious gem. But then he sees his reflection! He discovers “being special is being me”. 

Bits and Pieces: The art here is what truly shines. It’s got a very Jon Klassen - esq vibe with the static objects and their eyes expressing all the emotion. Linda does a great job with the vivid colors and the way she makes each rock look unique. She used watercolors and digital tools to create the look. 

Not Sure About: It’s a message based story and it works wonderfully, but I prefer character based storytelling. 

Favorite Part: I love the rock’s lil Bowie line through his face. He has a gold stripe down one side and it’s totally rad. But I read a couple reviews and no one else mentioned it, so maybe that’s just me? Also the first line is “I am a rock”. Paul Simon would be proud. I think. I don’t know him.

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