Room on Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, is one of the more cleverly didactic picture books our family has ever read. We all know the saying “There are two sides to every story,” and many of us have said this very thing to our children or students. Room on Our Rock provides adults with a concrete way to bring meaning to these words, as well as illustrate the benefits of sharing and welcoming others to your space. Read on to see what makes this book so clever!
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When read in the traditional English way, from left to right, Room on Our Rock reads as a story of selfishness, a story of putting one’s own needs in front of others. The book opens with a group of seals (and a seagull), perched atop a rock, declaring that there’s no room on their rock and shooing two hopeful seals away. The initial seals very unkindly continue insisting that the two newcomers cannot join their rock group, and as they do, the peril in the sea builds… And you just want these two seals to get somewhere safe, and fast!
However, as the cover also reads, there are two sides to every story. When you reach the end of your first standard reading and you’re worried about the seals’ safety, the last few pages read:
You have to leave right now
As you can plainly see
Now turn around.
No room on this rock? Can it be true?
Read back to front for another point of view.
So then, Kate and Jol have given us a unique opportunity to read the exact same book from back to front, getting a different point of view on the exact same words. And, when read this way, sharing, compassion, and generosity rise to the forefront, leaving us with, “There’s space for plenty more / So it’s ridiculous to say / There’s no room on our rock.”
Use this book when teaching point of view or perspective, for pure creative writing inspiration (or, for older writers, a challenge to see if anyone else can create a forward- and backward-reading story), or for talking with children about inclusivity and generosity.
A big thank you to Kane Miller EDC Publishing for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own.