The Sunshine Rock | Tahiya Cooper


The Sunshine Rock written by Tahiya Cooper & illustrated by Patricia Grannum

Out Now from All Booked Publishing; 28 pages

About the Author: “Tahiya Cooper is a School Counselor in Elton, Maryland. She has been an educator for 10 years. In 2019, she was named ‘Teacher of the Year’ at North East Elementary School. She prides herself on creating communities where students are kind, feel safe, and work hard. After launching a Kindness Club or her own school in 2018, Tahiya was inspired to write Kindness Week, her first children’s book and winner of three national awards. Tahiya has been a featured author across publications and media outlets including Kidliomag Magazine and local 6ABC Action News” (Bio from The Sunshine Rock).

Find Tahiya Cooper on the following platforms:

About the Illustrator: “Based in Trinidad and Tobago, Patricia has been drawing ever since she learned how to hold a pencil. Her work is inspired by folktales and the bright tropical colors of the Caribbean landscape that surrounds her. Growing up around a multitude of colors and cultures has fueled her love for creating characters that reflect her upbringing. Her journey as a self-taught artist has encouraged her to experiment with several styles that have merged into a distinct artistic voice. She has a passion for storytelling and enjoys illustrating narratives that convey a sense of wonder and hope” (Bio from The Sunshine Rock).

Find Patricia Grannum on the following platforms:

“Alexis was no longer nervous or anxious about her first day in her new school. On the way home, she realized that she no longer needed her Sunshine Rock. The kindness and empathy exhibited by her classmates made her feel right at home.” 

After moving to a new city, Alexis is incredibly anxious about starting school. Sensing this fear, her older brother gifts her with the “Sunshine Rock,” a present that their father gave him before he was deployed overseas. Alexis’s brother says the rock will bring her joy in times of fear or upset. With the Sunshine Rock in her possession on her first day, Alexis trips and falls.  Some of her classmates laugh, but others pause to help her. This experience, while upsetting for Alexis, becomes an opportunity for her classmates to learn about and discuss empathy. Following this class conversation that helped Alexis find the courage to share her feelings, Alexis is welcomed with open arms by her classmates. She forges friendships with many of them, most notably a girl named Lily. Learning that Lily is incredibly nervous about her upcoming dance recital, Alexis gives her the precious Sunshine Rock. Later, Lily gives Alex a card expressing gratitude and returns the rock to her. Despite being thankful for the Sunshine Rock, Alexis feels she no longer needs it because she has a group of new friends and a renewed confidence in herself.

The Sunshine Rock is a heartwarming story about friendship, courage, and empathy. Though the book is targeted towards a younger audience, readers of all ages can relate to Alexis’s feelings and fears. Cooper perfectly captures the anxiety that comes with starting at a new place and the concern over other’s perceptions. At times, it felt like some of the messaging was too overt, being relayed to the audience directly through a teacher’s lecture about empathy instead of implied through character experiences. However, the moment in which Alexis’s classmates acknowledge her feelings and work to include her is especially touching and shows the power of learning about empathy. Grannum’s illustrations elevate the piece as well, beautifully capturing Alexis’s emotions. The vivid colors of the story and the way that each page’s illustrations seem to flow into the next create a fluid and captivating image of Alexis’s journey. The resolution of the story was a wonderful full-circle moment that showed her growth. I would encourage readers of all ages to pick up this read for an uplifting story about the bravery it takes to face new challenges and the importance of treating people with kindness.  

Sam Parker, Pine Reads Review Writer