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The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds The Life of H. Tracy Hall

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Told in a unique dual-narrative format, The Diamond and the Boy follows the stories of both natural diamond creation and the life of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a revolutionary diamond-making machine. Perfect for fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein.

Before a diamond is a gem, it’s a common gray rock called graphite. Through
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  150 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Viviane Elbee
This book pairs the fascinating biography of H. Tracy Hall with the non-fiction scientific story of how diamonds are made. Kids who like science & who are interested in diamonds will enjoy this story. It will also appeal to non-fiction biography fans. This lyrical and poetic book is better for slightly older children in elementary school due to the subject matter. The kids enjoyed this book and voted to give it 5 stars.
Raven Black
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5. Interesting story how man-made diamonds came to be. Jay Fleck's illustrations are a good addition
Elizabeth Steinglass
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the way the two parallel stories work together and the beautiful language used in both. On many pages the author uses some of the same language to describe the diamond and the boy. This adds to both the beauty and interest of the story. What does it mean for a rock to experience pressure? What does it mean for a human? What does it mean for a crystal to be brilliant? What does it mean for a human? This is a wonderful science book and a wonderful picture book biography. Tracy could be an i ...more
Vivian Kirkfield
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love when books bring history alive for young readers! And THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY does exactly that!
Masterfully lyrical text marries with outstanding illustrations to convey the story of a young boy who overcame many obstacles. The unique format of comparing the progression in the life of the boy with the progression of life in the formation of the diamond is mesmerizing. This is a book that will appeal to all children, but especially those who are intrigued with STEM.
I highly recommend this
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating double story following both the challenging life of a brilliant boy, H Tracy Hall, and the metaphorically parallel forces that make a diamond. I had no idea what I was in for; what a delight to find such lyrical language weaving the two true tales together and bringing to life the fascinating process of the formation of natural and man-made diamonds. The final pages provide a history of humanity’s relationship with diamonds, as well as further insight into the man who changed moder ...more
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the lyrical language and the parallel but overlapping stories: one tells of how the author's grandfather, Tray Hall, grew up to become a diamond making machine. The other tells the story of a diamond being created. I appreciated the clever way Holt shows the similarities between the development of young Tracy Hall and a diamond. The language flows smoothly and is fun to read aloud.
Alayne Kay
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Two wonderful stories in one book told together as one unique and educational story. Hannah Holt has worked magic with her words to tell her grandfather H. Tracy Hall’s story of a difficult childhood, a boy with a curious mind, and a man who invents the machine that makes the man-made diamond. But Holt doesn’t stop there. On alternating pages we get to see her lyrical voice share the story of a rock that mirrors H. Tracy Hall’s journey in its own journey through the earth, waiting deep below in ...more
Kate Narita
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely love the dual narrative in this book because it shows how something, graphite, and someone, Tracy Hall, both unappreciated in their younger life can turn into treasures. The narrative also highlights the fact that when people spend time putting items or people down, instead of celebrating strengths, that riches go unnoticed. Within the text itself, readers see how Tracy Hall overcame bullying and poverty to become a successful inventor. The backmatter talks about the challenges the au ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY is a unique, masterfully written picture book that simultaneously describes the process of natural diamond formation and the life of Tracy J. Hall, the man who invented the process for making artificial diamonds. Its format is so complex I initially thought it wouldn't be a good selection for my four-year-old, but the prose was so smooth and beautiful that I tried it. My son was super involved in the story and full of questions ("Is that REAL?"). I suspect he's going to a ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holt creates a totally unique picture book using free verse text that mirrors its two subjects, diamonds and H. Tracy Hall, over time. Each parallel section of the text is displayed on either side of the double spread, with the diamond information on the left and Hall’s biography on the right, often starting both parts with the same word or phrase to hone in on the mirroring effect. Fleck’s pencil (with digital color) illustrations use primary shades to create clean images and silhouettes that c ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A detailed non-fiction story of the life of H. Tracy Hall and his invention of man-made diamonds. The detail about the geology of diamond forming and the story of the boy on opposite pages inventing man-made diamonds used to make drill bits and industrial tools is voluminous. The author has done her research about her grandfather and his trial and error to find the solution and technique to making man-made diamonds used for tools and later in jewelry. The back matter about the man's life and the ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Told in alternation POVs, THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY tells the story of how the diamond is created and the history of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a diamond-making machine. The story is told in a poem format that is both educational and intriguing.

The illustrations are eye-catching and the facts are relative to those interested in diamonds and learning. The reader learns things that they might've not known, like that H. Tracy Hall was bullied. This is a heartfelt story about H. Tracy Hall with th
Stephanie Bange
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This picture book biography is two dual free verse poems that tell two parallel stories. On the left side of the page, readers learn how natural diamonds are created by the earth. On the right side of the page, they learn how a boy named H. Tracy Hall grew up, experimenting with creating man-made diamonds, finally perfected the process.

Pencil with color and texture added digitally by Jay Fleck add to the reading experience. The book includes a history about diamonds as gemstones, a short biogra
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very unique story -- the dual narrative (in free-verse poems on opposite pages) of how a diamond is formed, and how an inventor was formed (H. Tracy Hall, who invented a machine to create man-made diamonds). Backmatter gives an excellent brief overview of diamonds, including how their value was inflated by De Beers' monopoly, and how they became "blood diamonds" used to fund conflict in Africa.

Personally, I did not realize the many industrial uses of diamonds and that most of these are man-ma
Jessie Oliveros
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a brilliant book on so many levels. First, the side-by-side layout is unlike anything I've seen before in a picture book. The author tells two stories--the story of the graphite (on the left) and the story of Tracy Hall (on the right). Then, the beautiful, lyrical language, some of it an echo between the two stories, clearly illustrates the parallels between the graphite and Tracy. The illustrations suit the story well--of a boy who as a poor child loved books and outscored the 12th ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring parallel story of a diamond's birth and transformation in the earth and a young boy's birth and transformation into becoming the inventor of a world-changing diamond-making machine. Holt weaves a wonderful story of both, with a special focus on her grandfather H. Tracy Hall and his persistence and patience through pressure and poverty, while Fleck's simple illustrations allow the parallel structure to shine. Back matter brings to light the diamond industry's sometimes dark past, whi ...more
Carrie Finison
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My diamond-obsessed Minecrafter was SO interested in this book. The story is told in a unique format, showing the parallel stories of the formation of a natural diamond, alongside the life of Tracy Hall who invented the machine to make diamonds in a lab. The back matter reveals much more about the diamond trade, machine-made diamonds, and the fact that Tracy Hall was also the author’s grandfather, which makes the book all the more compelling. Most of all what I loved was the message – sometimes ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile
This is a beautifully told dual story of a natural diamond forming in the earth, and a boy/man named Tracy Hall, who is the author's grandfather and inventor of a process for making industrial diamonds. It includes very clever parallels in the tales (both experience pressure, both exhibit patience). The back matter is particularly outstanding. I appreciated that it doesn't shy away from explaining about the violence funded by diamond sales. The details in the note about Tracy Hall and his life a ...more
The story of how a diamond is formed and the story of how a boy from humble beginnings, Tracy Hall, became an award winning scientist, The Diamond and the Boy is cleverly told, in parallel story arcs which tie satisfyingly together in the end. The language is clever and lyrical. The illustration style and bold color palette add to the appeal. All in all, this story about hardships and rising above to succeed both conveys a wonderful message to young readers and educates at the same time. A book ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical yet technical, The Diamond and the Boy is a picture book that encompasses both a gripping human struggle and the scientific process of creating a new material. The fact that it is based on the life of the author’s grandfather makes it all the more special. Side-by-side illustrations in each spread effectively compares and contrasts the geologic with the personal storyline. Hannah Holt successfully brings us a spellbinding story that is both entertaining and heartwarming.
Nadine Gamble
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit
This nonfiction picture book, intended for older readers who crave science facts, sparkles with details about diamonds. The unusual, yet extremely effective dual-narrative style shows diamonds made by nature side-by-side with the formation of inventor-to-be, H. Tracy Hall who created the first man made diamond.

The illustrations by Jay Fleck add their own story to the lyrical text. A perfect addition for any science nerd.
Beth Anderson
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story has a really interesting structure - parallel stories of the boy and the diamond, using many of same words for both, side by side on each spread. The careful crafting using multiple meanings of words/contexts is very well done and the juxtaposition of two very different things is thought provoking. Kids will be surprised to learn how a man replicated the forces of nature to produce a diamond.
Jen Betton
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Poetically written parallel story of how diamonds are formed inside the earth, along with the biography of Tracy Hall, who invented the process to create synthetic diamonds. The lyrical language weaves back and forth between the formation of the rock and the growth of the boy, concluding both stories with the discovery of a diamond. The author is the inventor's granddaughter, which gives the story a personal touch.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, picturebook
It takes pressure and heat to turn a piece of graphite into a diamond, and this book compares that process to what Tracy Hall went through growing up in the Great Depression: homeless, dirt poor, and bullied. No kid will have heard of Tracy Hall, but this co-story of diamonds and Hall will hopefully encourage curiosity, invention, and persistence. Story followed by further details of both the diamond industry and Hall's life, and a timeline of both.
Lynn  Davidson
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting story, told in parallel story lines, about diamonds and about a boy. Tracy Hall was a curious and very smart boy, who through hard work and determination eventually (in his early thirties) found a way to make diamonds through his invention of a diamond-making machine. His grand-daughter is the author of his story, and the story of how diamonds are formed in nature. It's marvellously told and wonderfully illustrated.
Kelli Panique
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Ann
I really appreciated the flow of the text, with its unique dual narrative structure. The suspense built slowly but tangibly, as we wanted to know how Tracy found his way out of his difficult situation. I wonder if the author could have made it a little clearer what the diamonds Tracy created were used for. I had to read the afterward closely to find this out, and it seemed an essential part of the story.
Melissa Stoller
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent picture book debut. The structure of the story follows the creation of a natural diamond, and the creation of a man-made diamond, invented by the author's grandfather. Suspense builds in both the natural and the inventor's world. The author also provides enriching back matter: a timeline about the history of diamonds and her grandfather's legacy, photographs of her grandfather, and resources for further learning.
Evelyn Bookless
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fresh take on a picture book biography (H. Tracy Hall) alongside facts on the creation of diamonds, makes for an excellent read on so many levels. The parallel layout of facts on one page and story on the opposite works beautifully. The lyrical free verse that the story is told in is beautifully crafted. High recommend for all curious little ones and lovers of language.
Andi Diehn
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful nonfiction picture book featuring the parallel stories of the making of a diamond and the making of a genius, who grows up to invent a way of creating diamonds in a lab. A wealth of back matter (timeline, resources, notes from the author) will make this book attractive to older kids while the rich illustrations and clever language will make read alouds fun for younger kids.
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Hannah Holt is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her books, The Diamond & The Boy (2018, Balzer+Bray) and A Father’s Love (2019, Philomel) weave together her love of language and science. She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat named Zephyr. She and her family enjoy reading, hiking, and eating chocolate chip cookies.

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