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Sylvester and the Magic Pebble Paperback – March 6, 2012
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In 1970, William Steig won the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble--the first of his many Newbery and Caldecott honors. In this donkey's tale, Steig imbues his characteristically simple illustrations of animals sporting human garb with evocative, irresistible, and heartbreakingly vivid emotions. The text is straightforward and the dialogue remarkably touching. Children will feel deeply for Sylvester and his parents, all wishing for the impossible--that the family will one day be reunited. Sylvester's sweet story is one that endures, reminding us all that sometimes what we have is all we really need. (Ages 4 to 8) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
I'm not a professional child psychologist, but looking back on my own experience, and how much I loved this book as a child, I think children have very powerful feelings all the time, including longing and sadness. It's comforting to see those feelings described and reflected outside yourself. If adults act like the whole world is happy-happy all the time, it can feel very lonely and isolating when you have other feelings. I would venture to guess that empathizing with characters in stories helps children develop a sense of connection between their own feelings and other people's feelings. This connection makes us feel less lonely and also allows us to be genuinely caring toward others.
I can still see, in my mind's eye, the picture of Sylvester the Rock under a blanket of snow, and feel the almost unbearable empathy that I felt for him when I read this book as a child. But it was a good feeling to feel such profound emotions. It was not unpleasant--it was very real, alive, and human--it made me feel connected with the world. And it was a safe place to feel these emotions, because I knew how the story ended, I knew everything would be okay.
I loved this book very much. I wonder if I still have it...
Sylvester's intentions are good and he plans to make use of the power of the pebble to help others. Nevertheless, the use of magic quickly becomes tragic, and Sylvester finds himself in a desperate situation from which escape seems all but impossible.
Reading this book to my daughters, I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride, as the little donkey is extricated from his plight just as all hope is lost.
This is an excellent book, beautifully illustrated, and clearly deserving of the Caldecott Medal which it won in 1970.
It also has some of the greatest lines in literature: "The warmth of his own mother sitting on him woke Sylvester up from his deep winter sleep." How can you beat that?
The story itself is a variation of the familiar theme of the grass being greener on the other side. In typical fashion, that fable theme is carried out here through many trials and tribulations that will help your child appreciate the joys of what otherwise would be consider humdrum. The strength of the story is the way the moral is made more explicit than in most other versions of this theme.
This book will never be forgotten by any child who reads it, and should be enjoyed by most children beginning around age 3. Fascination will tend to dull after age 6.
Sylvester Duncan (a donkey) lived with his parents. His favorite activity was to collect pebbles of unusual shapes and colors. One rainy Saturday during vacation, he was alone when he found a quite extraordinary one. It was "flaming red, shiny, and perfectly round, like a marble." Shivering in the rain, he wished that the sun would come out . . . and it did. The rain stopped so fast, "It CEASED." "It struck him that magic must be at work . . . ." He "guessed that the magic must be in the . . . pebble."
He then ran three tests. He started the rain, stopped it again, and got rid of a wart on his left hind fetlock.
Excited, he headed back home.
He ran into a lion. Startled, he made a wish without thinking. "I wish I were a rock." Well, he succeeded. The lion left.
The only trouble was, the pebble fell away from Sylvester.Read more ›
trouble one day when he finds a magic red pebble that grants wishes :
'What a lucky day this is!' thought Sylvester. 'From now on I can have anything I want.'
Sadly, a lion comes along and Sylvester unthinkingly says : "I wish I were a rock."
His wish is granted, but he is no longer able to grasp the pebble and so can not wish himself back to donkeyhood. His parents search
desperately for him, until one day they actually picnic upon the boulder he has become. Happily, they pick up the pebble and order is
restored. And, despite the awesome power of the pebble they lock it away in a safe :
Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They had all that they wanted.
The story is that simple and the drawings too are pretty basic, though charming. The real beauty of the tale lies in the simple message that it
is not "things" that will make us happy, but the comforts of family and home.
In his Caldecott Award acceptance speech, William Steig revealed his debt to an earlier classic :
It is very likely that Sylvester became a rock and then again a live donkey because I had once been so deeply impressed with Pinocchio's
longing to have his spirit encased in flesh instead of in wood.
It is altogether fitting that Steig's story has become a classic in its own right.
GRADE : A
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We very much enjoyed this book for the interesting illustration style, but there were a few issues. First, some of the sentences could have been written differently to provide a... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Erin
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is one of my favorite children's stories, and a wonderful story to read and share with children.Published 16 days ago by homemaker
My child is an avid rock collector so this was a super cute book for her.Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
Love this timeless story and love to give as a gift. In the description, I missed the part that this book comes with a CD.Published 1 month ago by A.E.
This was one of my favorite stories as a child. I love that it now comes with an audio version read by James Earl Jones!Published 2 months ago by Samantha
One of my a e favorite books! The kids I take care of love it as much as I doPublished 2 months ago by Andrea B. Dunlap