Hidden Gem

by Linda Liu (Author) Linda Liu (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade


(It also happens to be about a rock...)

"Breathtaking." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Prepare to fall in love with this debut picture book and its irresistibly quirky story of a tiny, unassuming rock's journey to self-confidence, perfect for fans of Eric Carle & Jon Klassen.

When a small pebble sees others gathering on the steps of the Museum of Rocks, he grows curious. Once inside the esteemed halls, he is shocked by what he discovers. The only rocks on display are glittering gemstones, geodes, and crystals!

These beautiful stones make him wonder: Can he be special, too? Perhaps he'll find an answer in the World's Most Beautiful Gem exhibition . . . or maybe, just maybe, he will find the answer inside himself.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

While there are many recent children's books that celebrate identity, make room for this one, which blends subtle humor and superb design for a profound, deftly conveyed message.

Publishers Weekly

In this straightforward diamond-in-the-rough story, newcomer Liu explores the fascinating forms of rocks via digital and watercolor spreads that foreground the objects' variegated colors and textures. On an opening page, the narrating rock--small, gray, and smooth, with a lighter-colored vein running through it--introduces itself: "I rock/ and roll// and tumble." A piece of paper blows toward it, an invitation to a "World's Most Beautiful Gem" exhibition at a museum, which common rocks visit to see distinctive gems up on plinths. Instead of rocking and rolling, though, the entities on display "shock/ and glow// and humble." How might the narrator, an average rock, become as notable as those on display? Should it sculpt itself into a different form, or paint itself a different color? (Liu renders the rock as part of several well-known works of art in the background.) Instead, the museum's star exhibit gives the rock a luminous, shimmering vision of itself as exceptional after all. Alongside message-forward text, it's the glowing colors of Liu's distinctive visual style that carry the overarching message of self-wonder and innate worth. Ages 4-8. Agent: Thao Le, Dijkstra Agency. (July)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Liu's art matches the quirky tone of the book, using predominantly geometrical shapes with beautifully textured watercolor patterns . . . the reminder to love yourself as you are is still sweet and worthy of sharing. —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Linda Liu

Linda Liu is an illustrator and designer based in Southern California with a taste for tactile textures, saucy shapes, and palatable palettes. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and now works freelance and full-time so she can be a girl boss and a girl employee at the same time. Hidden Gem is her debut picture book. Her favorite gem is pearl.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
July 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV029000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | General
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Precious stones

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