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Rice & Rocks

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Tradition takes flight in Rice & Rocks, a picture book celebrating culture and diversity.

Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed—he does not like “rice and rocks” and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together. 

32 pages, Hardcover

Published August 23, 2016

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About the author

Sandra L. Richards

1 book88 followers
Sandra L. Richards is the debut picture book author of Rice & Rocks. With Rice & Rock, Sandra brings a unique contribution to the world of children’s books. Sandra, an American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, hopes the book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity.

Sandra is also Executive Director and Head of Diverse and Multicultural Marketing, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Richards served as the Development Officer, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 55 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa (thereaderandthechef).
532 reviews168 followers
August 24, 2016
*This review can also be found on The Reader and the Chef. Thanks to Kate Tilton for the review copy in exchange of my honest opinion.*

Oh, you guys. I don't know if I've told you this but besides from YA books, I have a serious love for children's picture books. Maybe it's because they are the ones that helped me learn English quicker when I was in USA, or maybe because they are just too fun and incredible to look at, but either way, I really must tell you all how utterly amazing Rice & Rocks is.

I feel as if Rice & Rocks was written for the 7 year old me stuck in a foreign country. I wish I could have read it when I was a kid since it would have really helped me to feel a lot more comfortable with my roots, my traditions, in a foreign place with people of other colors & customs. I remember how I would feel embarrassed with the kind of food I ate, including Rice & Rocks a.k.a Rice and Beans. And it's such a silly thing because Rice and Beans were one of my favorite dishes when I was a kid (as long as they had chopped purple onions on top!) and it's still is (tho I can now eat with any type/color of onions now ;). But as a kid you want to blend in when in a different place and possibly show how you aren't any different from them. Even when it comes to food!

So I love the message that this book sends. I love how in just a few pages, it shows that you should never be embarrassed by your roots or your traditions. How they are beautiful, special, and part of who you are. I even learned that my Rice and Rocks (beans) are also shared and cherished all over the world - in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, New Orleans and all the way to Japan. ♥

However, not only the story is beautiful, but the art drawn in the 32 pages is simply stunning. The characters and the different cultures are richly represented, making Rice & Rocks a true joy to look at. Kudos to the talented Illustrator!

I truly cannot recommend Rice & Rocks enough. Picture books lovers, you are in for a treat!
Profile Image for Bethany M. Edwards.
78 reviews18 followers
October 3, 2017

If you are one that shares a love for celebrating culture through food, “Rice and Rocks” is the perfect book for you.

This story follows a young boy named Giovanni who goes on a magical adventure around the globe with his Auntie and pet parrot. Thanks to my husband who is from the South (in America), I learned that "Sunday dinner" is a sacred tradition.

In this book, Giovanni and his grandmother are sharing a traditional Jamaican dish of rice and beans or “Rice and Rocks”. Like many children, Giovanni is nervous about the meal because he knows that kids are quick to point out what is "different" and could potentially make fun of him.
The multicultural lesson learned through this amazing picture book is that the food on the table may be different, but the tradition of families eating together is the same.
With food as the vehicle; this book takes you to Japan, Puerto Rico, and New Orleans, US to discover all the various ways "rice and rocks" is prepared in different cultures.

This is a wonderful book for every family to read during meal time over a bowl of rice and rocks.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Tea And Chill.
35 reviews9 followers
October 4, 2020
*Review also on generation zea blog*

This was such a cute book. It’s important for kids to learn to love their culture/traditions that they might think is weird. The book taught us that even though we’re different at the core, we’re still the same. He’s trying to fit in and worried that his friends wouldn’t accept him but he realises that different cultures have different styles and if we can appreciate each other and ourselves everything would be ok and all. My only problem is the rice and beans instead of rice and peas when you represent Jamaican Sunday tradition. I can’t speak on the accuracy for the other cultures.
Profile Image for Stacia | stacialovestoread.
378 reviews24 followers
January 11, 2019
*First of all, deepest, most sincere thanks to Kate Tilton’s Author Services and Wise Ink Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Rice and Rocks is a child’s look at tradition and embarrassment in front of friends. Giovanni is having friends over on Sunday for dinner. Coming from a Jamaican family, that means his grandmother will be serving rice and beans as the main dish, much to Giovanni’s disappointment.
After speaking with his Auntie, they go on a fanciful trip around the world to places where his friends’ family heritage lies: Japan, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico. Giovanni learns that each culture has their own traditional meals they serve and that Louis Armstrong, his favorite trumpet player loved red beans and rice!
Upon coming back home, Giovanni is more than excited to share the meal with his friends. He understands that traditions are what make us who we are and that most cultures have similar traditions anyway!
This short little book was so amazing. It teaches about acceptance, family, pride of where you come from, and teaches that though people come from different places, we’re all pretty similar in the end! I will definitely be passing this along to others and I may reread it on days when I need a little encouragement!
Profile Image for Gayle Pace.
1,110 reviews21 followers
February 14, 2017
Children need these kinds of books to help them learn about cultures, how they are the same and different. It's a lesson for children to learn that even though we look different, live different, live in different areas, we all have some things that we have in common. We may like the same things. In this book it is beans and rice.This book is about a boy and his aunt who traveled and the child was so interested in the travels and what he was learning. He even had a pet. What that pet was I will leave to you to find out.The story has many illustrations that are colorful and large, so you can really see them. Children need to be in a magical space sometimes and this book lets them explore a magical area of different cultures. A lesson for children to learn is be happy and proud of who you are and take in others who are different and yet have many similarities. This book is mainly about the different foods that different cultures eat. It shows that you may like the same foods. A beautifully illustrated, well written story of family traditions.

I received this book from the author and voluntarily decided to review it.

Profile Image for kayreads.
20 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2020
Who else loves children’s books about traditions and culture?

Rice & Rocks’ tells the story of a young boy, Giovanni, whose family tradition is to eat Jamaican Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans on Sundays. When his Auntie enters his room to tell him about Sunday Dinner, he becomes weary that his three friends, who are later coming over for Sunday Dinner, won’t like “rice & rocks.”

Giovanni’s Auntie decides to give him a reality check so they embark on a magical adventure around the globe with his bird, Jasper. Where do they go? Japan, Puerto Rico, and New Orleans! On this adventure Giovanni learns that each culture has their own version of “rice and rocks.” In Japan it’s called Sekihan, which is red rice and red adzuki beans served on special occasions. In Puerto Rico it’s called “Arroz Con Gandules”, rice and pigeon peas. In New Orleans it’s called Red Beans and Rice. When they return home, Giovanni then appreciates family traditions and the diversity of his friends.

As a Jamaican, this book reminds me of my culture. On Sundays we have big family dinners, with the staple dish Rice & Beans except we called it Rice & Peas. This children’s book is great for teaching lessons on culture/traditions and to simply reminds children of the importance of heritage.

I think we can all learn a lesson from this book, though we are all of different backgrounds and cultures the importance of family is the same.
Profile Image for Kid Lit Reviews.
376 reviews59 followers
June 1, 2017
This entry is a Perfect Picture Book Friday "review." It is just a bit different, and I hope you'll like it.
PPBF is sponsored by author Susanna Leonard Hill.

Opening: “I woke up feeling great! It was Sunday. No school. No itchy uniform. I could play my trumpet, read my Godzilla comics, draw another frog picture, and hang out with Jasper. What I loved most about Sundays was my whole family came to visit.”

Why I like this book:
~ I love how Giovanni worries about whether his friends will like the Jamaican Sunday dinner of steamed chicken and rice and beans; particularly the rice and beans. Giovanni calls this dish “Rice and Rocks.”

~ Jasper, Giovanni’s pet; a (large) Congo African grey parrot has magical powers, and from the illustrations, it looks like Jasper can read comics.

~ Rice and beans is a Jamaican tradition. Three more traditions are in Rice and Rocks.

~ Jasper and Giovanni’s Auntie take a magical trip to the homeland of each of Giovanni’s friends: Puerto Rico (Emily), New Orleans (Gabby), and Japan (Aaron).

~ The national bird of each homeland greets Giovanni, Auntie, and Jasper: Oku, a green pheasant from Japan; Idalia, a spindalis from Puerto Rico; and Flint, a brown pelican from ‘N’Awlins (New Orleans).

~ Giovanni’s favorite trumpet-playing hero, Louis Armstrong . . .

Comments: I loved the story, especially learning about all four cultures and their food traditions. The opening is not needed, though the illustration is fantastic!. Most stories do not need a waking up scene, unless it is important to the story. In Rice and Rocks it is not important . . .

Here, if interested, you can find resources based on the book. There are some fun facts, games, recipes, wildlife and marine life, and rare wildlife links (to information) and a lesson plan for teachers (PDF).

Originally posted on Kid Lit Reviews. To read the PPBF post, get the resources, and see interior illustrations from Rice and Rocks can be found here: http://bit.ly/RiceAndRocks
Profile Image for Inderpreet Uppal.
Author 3 books71 followers
September 9, 2016
Rice and Rocks is a smart, colourful and well-written book that makes it easy for us to explain the importance of our traditions and the need to follow them. Bright, detailed pictures, and easy to read text made it a breeze to read with my son. Giovanni is enjoying his holiday with his Congo African Grey Parrot, Jasper who is no ordinary parrot. When Giovanni is a bit miffed about the traditional Sunday meal his aunt and parrot step in to make him aware. He along with his aunt flies away on his magical parrot to learn about what traditions and culture of his friends.

This is story will resonate with all of us since we too struggle with preserving our traditions and culture. Living in a world that is being slowly overwhelmed with new and modern ideas, it is easy to forget ourselves and our heritage.

The pictures, the spunky parrot Jasper and the easy to follow storyline makes it a wonderful, absorbing read, my son, and I read it and then read it again. He had so many questions to ask, so many things to say. I think this is a brilliant way of teaching our children about our values and culture.

Often the kids frown upon the traditions we have, the activities we do within our culture, by reading this book they will understand them and embrace its importance. Not only does the storybook teach us to value our own traditions but to respect those of others.

A fun read with good ideas and so much imagination. All this was well appreciated by my son as well. “It’s drawing was very cool and I loved the magical part when they touched the bird’s beak to get big and small.” The food adds to the experience since even we eat similar dishes, and my son asked for me to cook Rice and Rocks for him. He was happy that kids world over find it as tasty as he does. The magic, the travel, and the different experiences add up to a picture book that will be read many times.
Profile Image for M.M. Hudson.
Author 1 book231 followers
August 24, 2016
This wonderful little picture book celebrates cultural differences and cultural sameness. What I like about it though, the boy in the story learns about his own culture and that of others by going to the places where his friends are from.

Children reading this book are sure to get the concept that sometimes, even though we may be different, sometimes we have very similar taste in things, as the case in this book for food.
I found it interesting that one of the cultures used the beans and rice as a celebratory food and that them came up in the end of the book.

I thought the book had a magical essence about it because the way that the child and his aunt traveled and the interesting pet he had. This gave the book a different spin that I had not seen before.I loved that the child's interest were wrapped up in their travels too. That was a nice touch.

Finally, I really liked the illustrations in this book, they pretty much filled up the pages. They were not loud, bright colors but a bit more muted. Some pictures even were in black and white. That made them feel in a different time and space.

This is the first book from this author and I look forward to reading other books from her. 5 stars.

Disclosure: I received a PDF copy of this book in exchange for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~M.M. aka Naila Moon
Profile Image for Lynda Dickson.
581 reviews57 followers
August 25, 2016
Giovanni isn't impressed when his Grandma decides to cook rice and beans for his friends' visit. In fact, he calls the dish "rice and rocks", finding the beans inedible. Auntie thinks Giovanni needs a bit of a reality check and, with the help of Jasper the talking parrot, they take a magical trip to Japan, Puerto Rico, and New Orleans. They meet some helpful birds who tell them that rice and beans are traditional family meals in all of those places. After a bit of reflection, Giovanni gains pride in his family tradition.

Giovanni learns a valuable lesson that can be passed on to young readers with the help of older family members. This book is a good starting point for discussions about their own family traditions. The illustrations by Megan Sullivan are simply breathtaking. Colorful, rich, and full of detail, they capture the personalities of the characters and the essence of the countries they visit, adding immeasurably to the reading experience.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post (26 August): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.co...
Profile Image for Tina at Mommynificent.
586 reviews8 followers
August 23, 2016
This book is just fabulous! I was completely intrigued upon reading the description when I was invited to be a part of this blog tour, and the book turned out to be even better than I expected! This was an absolutely perfect way to wrap up our year of learning about Children Around the World!

I love how this book deals with the emotions that come with one’s national heritage and traditions – sometimes pride and sometimes embarrassment – and how the auntie in the story gently helps her nephew to make the journey from embarrassment to pride. What makes the book even better for me though is that this journey was not one of self-absorption with a complete focus on how special he and his heritage were but instead a journey of learning about others and seeing how the similarities and differences in our traditions are worth sharing and celebrating.
Profile Image for Priya.
Author 2 books47 followers
February 4, 2017
I loved this book for the precious lesson in it that we may be different yet similar and special in many ways. The language is simple and so are the illustrations. I would definitely recommend this book to all parents, teachers and librarians.
You can read my detailed review on my blog here >>
Rice & Rocks: A Celebration of Culinary Diversity
January 26, 2018
Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, but he’s not very excited. His grandma is making Jamaican stewed chicken with rice and beans, which Giovanni calls rice and rocks, and he’s worried that his friends won’t like the traditional dish. With the help of his Congo African grey parrot, Jasper, and his auntie, Giovanni travels around the world and is surprised to discover that many other cultures have special dishes that include rice and beans. If rice and beans is such a common dish, will his friends enjoy his grandma’s meal, too?

Rice and Rocks was a very fun read: a talking parrot, a trip around the world, and tasty meals of rice and beans! Accompanied by vibrant, colored illustrations, the text is straightforward and easy to read. Giovanni is honest and kids will like him and be able to identify with him. He enjoys playing the trumpet and reading graphic novels, but doesn’t like eating the beans when his Grandma cooks “rice and rocks” as he calls it. Many kids who are picky eaters can identify with Giovanni’s wary feelings about eating beans, and for kids who come from different cultures, they might feel unsure about trying new foods that are considered “traditional” in other cultures. Giovanni learns an important lesson: All cultures have their traditional dishes, and many different cultures from around the world have their own versions of rice and beans—sometimes as a way to celebrate a special occasion!

Sandra L. Richards uses cuisine to show how cultures are different, but at the same time, she tells a beautiful lesson of how different cultures actually have a lot in common. It is great that she celebrates the diversity of cultures, while still showing their similarities, and in many ways this same theme can be applied to people who come from different cultural backgrounds. Maybe part of growing up in a multicultural world is celebrating what makes us different, while finding traditions (and food) that we all share.

Final comment: In Hawaii, we love rice! We could eat rice at every meal! It was fun reading about how other cultures use rice in their meals.

Mahalo to Sandra L. Richards for this great read!
March 18, 2017
Our little island is becoming more and more diverse. Each year there is a multi-cultural street fair where we celebrate the different cultures that are present on our island. It’s an amazing time where the kids can explore foods, activities, games, art and crafts, displays, music and performances. “Rice and Rocks” is a celebration of different cultures coming together around the dinner table.

“Rice and Rocks” is a the story of a young boy named Giovanni who goes on a magical adventure around the globe with his Auntie and pet parrot. Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner and his grandmother is making a traditional Jamaican dish of rice and beans or “Rice and Rocks” as Giovanni calls it. He is worried that his friends will think the dish is weird. His favourite Auntie comes to the rescue and takes him on a magical adventure around the globe where they visit other places where people eat “Rice and Rocks”.

“Rice and Rocks” is a story that celebrates friends, family and family traditions. I love that Giovanni’s family has a Sunday tradition of eating together as a family. There is no better way to connect together with loved ones than around the dinner table, I love how this reflects how we eat together as a family for supper as well. My children don’t always want to eat at the table with us, and this story shows that it’s not just “Mom’s rule” that they have to eat the table, but that it’s something that families all over the world do together.

The author, Sandra L. Richards, takes us on a journey to Japan, Puerto Rico and New Orleans in the United States. We discover that there are similarities between every culture. Giovanni discovers that “Rice and Rocks” is a meal that is served in various forms around the world. I love how this teaches us that while we are all different, if we look closely we can find a common thread, and it’s that thread that can bring us together as family and friends!

The illustrations are wonderful, full of energy and bright colours. I love the image of Jasper, he looks like he would be the perfect traveling companion. I found the text difficult to read on my tablet, but it was much easier to read in the Kindle Cloud Reader on my laptop.

The story offers so many opportunities for conversation with your children. Take the time to discuss what traditions you have a family and which ones are your favourite. My favourite question to ask the kids is about what “new” tradition they would like to start.

“Rice and Rocks” is an amazing adventure that spans the globe and celebrates the things that bring us together.

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of "Rice and Rocks" in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% my own.
Profile Image for Baby Bookworm.
1,641 reviews91 followers
January 9, 2018

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Rice & Rocks, written by Sandra L. Richards and illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan, a fantastic story about how food can bring cultures together.

Giovanni is looking forward to having his friends over for his family’s Sunday dinner, but is dismayed when he hears what his grandmother will be serving: Jamaican rice and beans or, as he calls them, rice and rocks! He is sure his friends won’t like such a weird dish, but his favorite Auntie and Jasper, his talking parrot, surprise him by offering to take a magical trip around the world to show Giovanni that, while he may not know it, there are plenty of cultures who enjoy “rice and rocks” as a part of their traditional meals!

Conceptually, this book is brilliant: tying different cultures together through their shared cuisine is, to my knowledge, a completely unique idea for a children’s book (SO many cultures use rice and beans as a staple food). It’s a brilliant way to show that no matter how dissimilar we may appear, we all enjoy the same foods. In execution, the book does extremely well: the dialogue is informative and entertaining, and the pace moves at a good clip for young readers. There are a few instances where characters could have been either cut, consolidated, or fleshed out more, but for the most part, each one is lots of fun, especially the other birds from the cultures they visit. Also, the length might be a bit much for very young baby bookworms, but older babies should handle it fine. The illustrations were another high point: they were colorful, highly detailed, and complimented the story very well (the food in particular looked delicious enough to eat)! Overall, this is an exceptionally unique book with a fantastic message and a great look, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!

Be sure to check out The Baby Bookworm for more reviews!
Profile Image for Amanda Rodriques.
13 reviews2 followers
October 2, 2020
Sandra L. Richard’s ‘Rice & Rocks’ follows Giovanni, a black, of Jamaican heritage, young boy, living with his aunt and grandmother. Having invited his friends over for dinner that Sunday, he wishes to know what it is his grandmother will be making. Rice and beans! (or as Giovanni calls it ‘rice and rocks’). Listen here, I don’t know this ‘rice and beans’ nonsense! It is called rice and peas! Joking joking *side eye*.

Giovanni, it seems, is not much of a fan of this traditional Jamaican meal and is certain his friends will make fun of him. The story brings us along on his journey to discovering the beauty of ‘rice and rocks’ and the beauty of his heritage.

That’s probably what I loved most about this children’s book (*not me having signed up to read this book not knowing it was a children’s book, LOL*) - the road to self-discovery if you may. Culture, and heritage, and tradition, and diversity were depicted so beautifully in this book and in such a way that the little ones reading it won’t see those terms as ‘abstract’ or ‘confusing’. Not to mention that little children of color are able to see themselves in this book, and that (don’t argue with me) is something I wish more children’s books enabled.

Anywayssss, the artwork was gorgeous -my eyeballs practically played ping-pong trying to look at all the subtle details. I think the only thing I truly wished for was for the colors to be a bit bolder. I want those colors to pop out at me like a madman on the sidewalk.

Would definitely recommend ‘Rice & Rocks’ for any young relatives (or your children, eek that sounds so weird for me to say I'm literally sixteen) of yours. You can definitely catch me buying a physical copy for my godbrother Grey when he stops being a little twat.
2,550 reviews33 followers
February 16, 2017
Giovanni is a boy of Jamaican heritage and they are planning on a Sunday dinner, with his grandmother doing the cooking. When he asks about the menu, Auntie tells him that they are having “rocks and rice,” which is rice and beans. It is a meal that is an old family tradition.
Giovanni is upset because his three friends Emily, Gabby and Aaron are coming over for the dinner. Emily’s family is from Puerto Rico, Gabby’s is from New Orleans and Aaron’s is from Japan. Giovanni thinks that such a meal is demeaning and demands that the menu be changed. Using some magic, Auntie changes his pet bird into a giant and Giovanni and Auntie mount him and they take flight on a voyage of discovery.
Their first destination is Japan, where they learn that rice and beans is called Sekihan and it is a traditional Japanese dish served on special occasions such as holidays. From there they go to Puerto Rico, where rice and beans is known as arroz con gandules and it is also served on special occasions like holidays. Their third and last stop is in New Orleans where Giovanni learns that rice and beans were Louis Armstrong’s favorite food. Once they return to Giovanni’s for dinner, he is proud to tell his friends that they are having the traditional family meal of rice and beans.
This is a nice lesson for children, where they can learn that there are some foods that are eaten in many cultures and on special occasions. What began as a embarrassment turned out to be a source of pride after received Giovanni received a bit of education.
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2017
Book Review
Title: Rice & Rocks

Author: Sandra L. Richards

Genre: Childrens/Picture Book

Rating: *****

Review: I loved this book, it is all about emboding family, friendship and tradition. This is Giovanni's story about learning to accept and embrace his family hertiage and related tradition with some help from his magic pet parrot; Jasper. I loved the premise of this book and how multi-cultural this book was with characters from Jamaica and Japan as well as many other locations.
I also loved the illustrations in this book, they were absolute perfection. The writing and drawing style complimented the story perfectly, and provided a joyful reading experience. I would highly recommend this book to all parents with young children. I would also recommend this to older readers as it creates an amazing nostalgic experience that will transport you straight back to your childhood.

If you do nothing else this holiday season definitely go and buy this beautiful book. Sandra L. Richards is the debut picture book author of Rice & Rocks. With Rice & Rocks, Sandra brings a unique contribution to the world of children’s books. An American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, she hopes the book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
Author 2 books21 followers
November 5, 2017
This is a beautifully written and illustrated children’s book about family, tradition and learning an important life lesson -- we have more in common than we think. When Giovanni is less than pleased that his Sunday dinner will be rice and beans, we learn from Jasper, his exceptional Congo African grey parrot, that Giovanni calls the dish “rice and rocks.” Part of his displeasure comes from the fact that his friends are visiting this Sunday, and he is afraid of being embarrassed by the humble offerings of Jamaican chicken stew with rice and beans. But this is a family tradition, one his Auntie looks forward to each week, so it isn’t likely the tradition will be ending anytime soon. Giovanni, with the help of his Auntie, Jasper and a little bit of magic, learns a valuable lesson in the importance of family traditions.
This is a wonderful book to begin a conversation about family traditions and culture. The illustrations are beautiful and enhance the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a great read for their 5-9 year-old. And why not cook up a pot of your own family’s version of "rice and rocks" (we all have one), as a special after reading treat? Great life lessons in culture, tradition and food all the way around.
Profile Image for Lia.
17 reviews2 followers
October 5, 2017
Disclaimer: I was provided an advanced copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Rice & Rocks is a must-read story for all young children looking to embrace and understand their cultural traditions, their sense of who they are and where they come from, and interested in learning about the diversity of cultures in our society. The main character Giovanni is a relatable, inquisitive and typical little boy trying to figure out that something he takes for granted unifies him with his friends in ways he doesn’t even realize.

This book is aimed towards a youth audience in grades K-5 and explores other themes such as self-love, history, inquisitiveness, friendship, intra-familial and generational relationships, and embraces an element of magical-realism. I read this story with my children in 1st and 4th grades and they paid attention, asked questions, loved the beautiful illustrations, and the story itself. After the book we had an interesting conversation about traditions, family, shared heritage, and being inquisitive. This is a delightful book to read with your kids and a great conversation starter.
Profile Image for Dee Stafford.
39 reviews
November 23, 2021
“I have not had red beans and rice since my last visit to N’Awlins. This is really good,” said Gabby, putting another spoonful in her mouth.
Aaron looked confused. “Are we celebrating something?”
“We are celebrating family, friends, and traditions,” I said. I grinned, glad that my friends liked rice and rocks. “It’s really nice to spend time with all of you.” - Pgs 31-32

Rice & Rocks is a beautifully illustrated, culturally diverse children's book centered around my favorite topic...food! In it the author infuses a bit of make believe to give us history lessons about the foods and family traditions of 4 different countries all while teaching the main character, Giovanni to eat his veggies and most importantly, to be proud of his family's traditions and the time he has to spend with them. I believe the above quote captures the heart of it for me.

Parents will enjoy reading it with/to their little ones because the illustrations compliment the story perfectly. This book will also work as a good conversation starter for acceptance of self and others for school age children.

Note: the rating on my blog is actually 4.5 but I rounded up
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 1 book1 follower
October 16, 2017
Tradition takes flight in Rice & Rocks, a picture book celebrating culture and diversity.

I had the pleasure to read and review Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards. I loved the plot of the story, and how it teaches that the same dish is cooked and called many different things across various cultures. My eight-year-old, fell in love with the plot, while my five-year-old fell in love with the colorful illustrations.

This gentle, yet powerful story, focuses on the importance of culture in the most extraordinary way.

With a clever and impactful use of color, Sandra Richards’ story guides us through this thoughtful storyline to perfection. The use of stark inking and water-color like illustrations draws us in, illustrating the powerfulness of pictures. In addition to food playing a large role, music, specifically, the trumpet appears to be central in telling this story.

Accentuating the ordinary and highlighting the enormity of a simple meal, this clever, understated but highly poignant story certainly packs a punch.
Author 8 books6 followers
November 11, 2017
This is one of the most beautifully written and illustrated children's books I've ever read. Sandra Richards does an incredible job on conveying the fact that we have to hold close to family traditions and that we are so much alike and that we should try to remember that more. The main character, Giovanni, is not happy about having rice and beans, or ride and rocks as he calls them. He's afraid that with his friends coming to visit for Sunday lunch that then are not going to like the food. His amazing parrot and his Aunt use some special magic to show Giovanni that rice and rocks are a part of most cultures! They traveled to New Orleans, Japan, and Puerto Rico. Giovanni gains a better understanding of his culture and that of others and also starts to appreciate it more. His friends loved their lunch and talked about how it reminded them of a meal in their family culture and tradition. It's an amazing book and I can't wait to share it with many others! This book could teach a lot of lessons to people of many ages and nationalities. Great read!!
50 reviews
April 25, 2019
I gave this book a rating of 5 stars because this was actually a very good book. I really liked this book because talks about people from different parts of the world and what they eat. Giovanni is worried that his "rice and rocks" won't be enough for his friends and that they will think it is weird. This book teaches that people come from different backgrounds with different "traditional" foods. It teaches students that it is ok to be different and you don't have to be ashamed from where you come from and what things come with that.

A little boy has his friends over for traditional dinner on Sunday, they are having rice and beans which Giovanni refers to as "rice and rocks" he is afraid that his friends won't like it and think that it's weird. His auntie saves the day by talking to him about his friends and how they come from different places with different "traditional foods/events". He seems to understand and is not afraid anymore of his friends coming over for "rice and rocks".
Profile Image for Felix Hommy Gonzalez.
133 reviews3 followers
September 30, 2020
Rice and Rocks is a beautiful picture book, but it’s also a lot more than that. It’s a celebration of traditions, culture, family... and rice and beans.

When Giovanni invites his friends to visit and his grandma decides to make rice and beans for them, he is disappointed and ashamed. Who in the world likes rice and beans?!

But Giovanni is about to learn an important lesson (or two), because with the help of his auntie and a magical bird, he’s going to learn about the importance of traditions AND also discover that there are many places around the world that also enjoy a good plate of rice and beans.

The story was magical and cute, the artwork is just stunning, and the celebration of Jamaican culture through food (AND the celebration of just a few other cultures 😏🇵🇷) is greatly appreciated.

This book is a perfect read for young kids, but grown ups will probably enjoy it too. I can vouch for that. 😊

4/5 stars
Profile Image for Read, Relax, Review.
176 reviews77 followers
January 12, 2017
This author is new to me, the book is her debut and it doesn’t disappoint. My first impression of the book was that it was a good sized hardback (perfect for frequent use) with a very appealing cover (the artwork is lovely in its detail) and the artwork detail is maintained throughout the book. This detail adds to the text within the book and really draws in the reader. Until I read this book I had never heard about a dish called rice and rocks (rice and beans).

The story is about a young boy called Giovanni who is excited that it’s Sunday because that’s the day that all his family come to visit. Also on this day Giovanni has some friends coming over which he’s concerned about because his Grandma is cooking rice and rocks (he assumes that his friends won’t appreciate this dish because they aren’t of his nationality). What he finds out is that not only is he very wrong (all his friends have had this dish and loved it albeit they each call it by different names), but that this dish is enjoyed by many people the world over.

I really enjoyed this book and I will be very happy to read it to any child of any age. It teaches us all that we can’t assume that people of different skin colours don’t share similar traditions and/or food with ourselves. The teaching about appreciating different cultures is a very important message that we need to hear these days.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
9 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2017
From beginning to end, Rice & Rocks, is an inventive, good-natured, fun tale about a boy, named Giovanni and his “not-so normal” parrot, Jasper. Both go on a surprise adventure to discover similarities between his Jamaican family’s food traditions and other cultures. The illustrations magically depict the characters, their emotions, and the unexpected world of traveling. This is an ideal book for young children to learn about the importance of family traditions and diversity. It’s also a book that will ignite their curiosity to travel to all these far away places and experience different cultures. Though we know Giovanni’s family has gatherings every Sundays, we don’t know why on this particular day his friends are invited. It would serve the story well and add to the drama, if we knew why his friends were visiting.
Profile Image for Geetanjali Mukherjee.
Author 18 books27 followers
May 14, 2017
* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

I haven't read a children's book in at least a decade, but something about this book made me want to read it. From the book description: "Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed—he does not like “rice and rocks” and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird."

Not only is it beautifully illustrated, "Rice and Rocks" is a light-hearted, fun story about an important topic - accepting ourselves and others and embracing differences. I highly recommend this book to children of all ages and commend the author for her unique approach to this subject.
Profile Image for Erin Buhr.
Author 5 books34 followers
December 30, 2017
Giovanni loves Sundays but this Sunday his friends are joining his family for dinner and he's worried what they will think about his grandma's Jamaican rice and beans. His auntie, a magic bird, and a flight around the world show him that rice and beans aren't that uncommon after all. Kids that are starting to notice the differences between their family traditions and those of their friends will identify with Giovanni's emotions and struggles. I love how this book focuses not just on what makes us different, but on the things that are similar across cultures. RICE & ROCKS is well written and beautifully illustrated with details and depth that make you want to read it again. It also made me really want some Jamaican rice and beans!
99 reviews
June 28, 2017
Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed—he does not like “rice and rocks” and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together.

I gave this a 5 out of 5 because it was a cute book and is very informational about cultures other than our own.
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