This is My Rock by David Lucas. Simple fable or incisive political commentary?

posted in: David Lucas | 8

ThisIsMyRock_Thumbnail_FlyingEyeBooksThis is My Rock by David Lucas appears at first glance to be a straightforward fable about sharing. A young goat refuses to let any other animal on to his rock but this ends up leaving him isolated. The goat does what so many adults appear unable to do (change their mind and accept that they were wrong), and ends up making amends. Friendship and community triumph over proprietary.

This unvarnished morality tale’s strength lies in its simplicity. On one level it speaks to its listeners and readers directly, openly, transparently. On the other hand it can also work as high satire. I’ve been reading This is My Rock against a backdrop of daily discussions in the media about immigration in the UK, and at some level I think all the hot air surrounding this topic could be healthily dissipated if only people were to read something as straightforward and honest as Lucas’ new book.


The restraint shown in the text is brought into sharp relief by Lucas’ highly decorative style of illustration, full of textures and repeating motifs. Even though each motif is individually pared back and stylized, when brought together and echoed time and again, his illustrations have a satisfying rhythm and sophisticated beauty to them, brought out by the use of a restricted palette. Flying Eye, the publisher of This is My Rock, certainly know how to create visually stunning books.


And it is Lucas’ use of pattern which inspired us to play by the book, taking our lead from the frames which surround many of the double page spreads in This is My Rock to doodle patterned frames ourselves.

First I sharpened pencils…


(Am I crazy? These two photos just make me swoon – I think there’s nothing quite like the sight of newly sharpened pencils waiting to be used.)


The girls and I then set to decorating envelopes with patterned frames.


The inspiration for decorating envelopes came from two sources:


This is some stationary which David Lucas designed a few years ago, which I bought in bulk at the time. Unfortunately we’ve recently used the last sheets of it.

The kids and I have also had lots of fun in the past few days looking at envelopes decorated by illustrators, for example these on sale at The Illustration Cupboard, these sent to the publisher Klaus Flugge and which have been collated into a book, and also these envelopes decorated by Edward Gorey. Wouldn’t you love to receive such beautiful post?

And so we came up with these, which we’ll be using for a whole bunch of thankyou letters we’ve got to write after a recent birthday:


Whilst decorating our envelopes with David Lucas inspired patterned frames we listened to:

  • Pachabel’s Canon and several Bach Fugues as I think these are great examples of musical patterns which could inspire pictorial patterns:

  • Six Marimbas by Steve Reich – also for its musical patterns (thanks to Mike Smith @blogshank for the suggestion)
  • The Goat and the Train by Burl Ives
  • King of the Castle by Roy Bailey

  • Other activities which could go well with reading This is My Rock include:

  • Reading my interview with David Lucas
  • Making printing stamps as a family. Stamps are a great way to explore repeating pattern. We especially like using plasticine (modelling clay) and vegetables when printing.
  • Finding a high rock (or tree) to explore. There’s nothing like being up high and having a great view, especially if you can share it with friends and family! You could even take this book with you for an outdoor storytime.

  • What books have you read recently where their simplicity worked in their favour?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    8 Responses

      • Zoe

        Yes, Claire, i think this might become a regular feature from now one when we write letters!

    1. david lucas

      hi Zoe – what a lovely article, thanks! I love Bach – and have been playing Burl Ives to my baby daughter too
      (and trying to sing along) Current favourite: Really glad you can see so much in the book. Making repeat pattern is so meditative – I decided the key to pattern was number: counting threes and twos.

      • Zoe

        Hi David! A diet of Burl Ives for your daughter sounds excellent 🙂 Yes, I agree about the meditative nature of pattern making. I was thinking a lot about how there’s this current craze for colouring in for adults, about how people are saying it is relaxing. Something about the colouring in doesn’t appeal to me (probably my rebellious nature), but the pattern making had the freedom I wanted with the same meditative quality I hear people claiming for colouring in.

    2. Tim Hopgood

      Great looking book, interesting review, thanks for posting. Love the pencil photos. Amazing how something as simple as sharpening pencils can be SO satisfying! Decorating envelopes takes me right back to childhood. I used to spend hours decorating birthday card envelopes for family and friends.

      • Zoe

        It’s my lucky day today Tim – you and David commenting. This is like a dream party! I’d love to have seen some of your birthday card envelopes.

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