Julie the Rockhound

School Library Journal - November 2007

While exploring the hillside behind her new house, Julie finds a sparkly clear rock that her dad identifies as a crystal. He knows that it is made of quartz, that it comes from a vein in the ground, and that all crystals grow and have the same shape even if they are different sizes. While Julie is unfamiliar with technical terms such as "silicon dioxide" and "veins," she is fascinated by what her dad teaches her. The book successfully incorporates nitty-gritty detail about crystals. Soft pastel illustrations make this a warm, accessible introduction to rock collecting. The interplay between Julie and her dad and the infectious enthusiasm passed between the two add to the appeal of digging up treasure in one's own backyard. A four-page reproducible section "For Creative Minds" features tips on becoming a rockhound, a Moh's Hardness Scale for comparing minerals, and recipes that serve as models for understanding how different types of rocks are made. This book will find a place in either picture-book or natural-science collections.
- Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA

Rocks & Minerals magazine - Sept/Oct 2008

It is unfortunate, but there seems to be a paucity of books about minerals and mineral collecting for children. This is particularly true of books for early readers. A recent and welcome addition to the literature is Julie the Rockhound. The accompanying review will give you a perspective from the intended audience (ages five to nine). Here I wish only to comment on the scientific accuracy of the text and the range of subject matter covered.

Julie the Rockhound chronicles the discovery of beautiful quartz crystals by a little girl named Julie in the back yard of her new house. Questions to her father about this treasure introduce the reader to many aspects of mineralogy and being a collector. These include crystals, quartz (including its varieties and chemistry), veins, pockets, crystal faces, and the consistency of crystal shapes, solutions, and crystal growth. The back of the book includes creative exercises, tips on collecting minerals, and an introduction to rocks, minerals, and mineral properties. There are a few minor statements that are partially incorrect, but for the most part, the book is scientifically accurate and well written. Even seasoned collectors may learn a thing or two.
John Rakovan, Miami University, Oxford, OH

Rock & Gem Magazine - October 2007

A girl's interest in mineral collecting is sparkled by the discovery of a quartz crystal in Julie the Rockhound (Arbordale Publishing, 2007), a picture book for ages 5 to 9. Julie's father describes her find in words that are at once familiar and confusing. As Julie and the reader learn more about quartz, "crystal," "vein," "pocket" and "faces" take on new meanings.

Warm watercolor illustrations capture the excitement of a sparkling mineral discovery, the details of the quartz crystal shape, and the relationship between Julie and her father.

Developed in response to teacher requests, this book was designed to support the National Science Standard with regard to rocks and minerals. Educational activities at the back of the book include matching items to their plant, animal or mineral source, an edible rock formation project, and arranging minerals by ther Mohs hardness. Teaching Activities and Learning Links are offered as resources for classroom use at

Author Gail Langer Karwoski and her husband own a quartz deposit in South Carolina, where they offer fee mining. A former teacher, Karwoski has written seven other titles for young readers.

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database - October 2007

Julie discovers different kinds of crystals and learns about their names and make-up in this cleverly written story about rockhounding. Julie and her dad use word play with common words like vein, pocket, and face to increase her knowledge about rocks and the entertaining and informative dialogue between Julie and her dad keep the story moving. Realistic watercolor illustrations capture Julie’s concentration and wonder as she journeys through her rockhounding day. Detailed, realistic illustrations show readers what Smoky, White, Clear, Rose, Citrine and Amethyst quartz really look like. The Creative Minds section at the end of the book gives the reader more opportunity to learn about rocks. One activity consists of matching things made in nature and made by humans. Another gives clear directions on how to become a rockhound, and a third lets readers create fun and delicious recipes that help them learn about Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous rocks. This book would make an excellent addition to earth science lessons and it will keep curious, young rockhounders busy.

Smyrna Public Library, Lisa Tarr

I still think Julie the Rockhound is one of the best books on rock collecting I have ever seen.  SO many children like to collect rocks.  We’ve had such fun with it.

Stories for Children Magazine - Oct 2008

This high-quality book serves well as an additional source of information for the topic of Earth Science in elementary school, usually introduced to students in Grade 3.

Julie discovers a shiny rock in the backyard of her new home. She wants to know what it is. She shows it to Dad. He tells her all about crystal quartz and its many properties. They go up the hill where Julie found the crystal and together they search for more. Do you know what rocks you can find in your backyard?  You'll just have to read this fun book so you can figure out how to look for the rocks and what kinds you will find.  This is a great idea for a new activity you and your child can share.

This book is an excellent resource for kids who want to learn more about rock collecting, who want to experience a new adventure, or who want to start a new hobby. Author Gail Langer Karwoski does a terrific job in providing very clear and straightforward text that will appeal to children of all ages. The realistic illustrations by Lisa Downey make the different rocks easily identifiable. I learned lots by reading this book!

As with all Arbordale books, there is a section entitled "For Creative Minds" at the end of the book that is also available online. There's a section on "Plant, Animal or Mineral? A Matching Activity", and "Become A Rockhound", which explains in detail how to go about this fun activity, "Rocks And How They Are Found", "Food Rocks!" and "Sorting It All Out-Classifying Minerals".

In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at

A Readable Feast ( - September 2007

As a child, did you like to dig up rocks in the backyard? Then you can relate to Julie the Rockhound by Gail Langer Karwoski and illustrated by Lisa Downey. When Julie moves to a new house and finds a piece of quartz crystal buried in the backyard, she turns into "Julie the Rockhound." Soon her dad dad shows her how to dig for rocks and explains how crystals are formed.

Like other Arbordale Publishing books, Julie the Rockhound comes with a "For Creative Minds" section. (Click here for a PDF version.) Your child will explore if items are plants, animals or minerals. They'll learn what they need to become a rockhound, how rocks are formed, and how to classify minerals.

The "Food Rocks!" section shows how you can use cooking to understand how rocks are formed. The recipe they give for sedimentary rocks is making a sandwich. The layers of margarine, cheese, bread and meat represent layers of sedimentary rock. Great idea!
- Anne-Marie Nichols

Laura Williams' Musings - October 2007

My two oldest sons, ages 7 and 8, enjoyed this book the most out of my children. They enjoyed reading about how the main character, Julie, found crystals.

The Creative Minds section in the back of the book give your child the chance to learn more crystals as well as activities and gives classification charts.

The science behind the storyline in this book makes it a great addition for a homeschool family's book shelves. I give this book a bright line of 5 stars
- Laura Williams

PRS, issue 105 - Winter 2007

Julie showed her dad where she found her crystal.  She helped him dig a deep, wide hole.  In the hole, they found many sparkly crystals poking into a small cavity.

"Look! Here's a pocket of crystals," Dad cried.

Julie the Rockhound is the delightful tale of a young girl who finds a beautiful quartz crystal on the hillside behind her home.  Excited about the unexpected discovery, she eagerly shows her new prize to her father.  Although her father tries to explain the nature of crystals to Julie, she remains a bit befuddled by his somewhat confusing play on words.  Thus, while the crystal that she found is a type of quartz, this is not the same as the quarts of milk in the refrigerator.  And, despite the fact that minerals and crystals may grow in veins or pockets, these differ from the veins in her arm or the pockets in her trousers.  The misleading vocabulary of the rockhound’s lexicon leaves her with much to think about; however, in spite of her confusion, Julie’s father helps open her eyes to an amazing world of rocks and minerals right beneath her feet.

Karwoski concludes with some basic information about how rocks are formed and how minerals are classified, as well as some important tips on how youngsters can go about becoming rockhounds themselves.

This nicely illustrated story is primarily written for children 5 to 9 years of age (interest level K to 4).  It offers young readers an opportunity to discover an exciting new hobby and to learn a little about earth science in the process.  Rockhounds hoping to encourage a similar passion in young children will appreciate that Julie the Rockhound should be of value in helping to stimulate an interest in rock and mineral collecting among burgeoning pebble pups.
- Danny Brass

Children's Book Reviews - December 2007

What child doesn’t collect rocks at one time or another, especially the shiny and unusual ones? That makes all children rockhounds like Julie in this most interesting story that proficiently explains what quartz crystals are and how to find them. Young readers will enjoy learning about the properties and growth of crystals. Yes, crystals do grow! Author Gail Langer Karwoski has done a splendid job of taking a scientific concept and creating an absorbing story around it.

Artist Lisa Downey’s detailed pencil drawings add so much to the story, making it easy for readers to visualize what Julie and Dad talk about on their hunt for rocks. For instance, where Dad explains, “It takes a VERY long grow.” The illustrations show the ascending scale of a quartz crystal’s growth. The activities in the back of the book are both informative and enjoyable. The book is highly recommended for the rockhounds in any home or classroom, ages 6 – 10.
- Judith Nasse

Tundraco: A Resource Guide for Rockhounds - September 2015

The combination of a cleverly crafted story along with the geological information contained in the "For Creative Minds" sections, makes this an ideal book for use in the classroom as well as in a home schooling setting. Parents who simply have an inquisitive reader or budding rockhound on their hands will also find that this book will not only encourage their child to read - but also expand their horizons when it comes to rock collecting.

Although the main character in this book is a 'girl,' both boys and girls will enjoy the story and learning about quartz crystals. I have to admit, after reading the story I'm a bit jealous of Julie, I've found tiny quartz crystals, but never anything as nice as Julie found! In addition, although this book is listed as geared toward those in grades K-4, it is also suitable as a read-out-loud book for non-readers and for older kids just getting started in rock collecting.