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Words of Stone Hardcover – September 16, 1992


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Hardcover, September 16, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every year for the past five years since his mother's death, 10-year-old Blaze has buried an imaginary friend beneath a stone marker on a hill near his house. Every July he creates a new friend, hoping that this time his make-believe companion will help him overcome his phobias--fears that have plagued him since he lost his mother to cancer. One day Blaze discovers that someone has used his stone grave markers to spell out his mother's name, "Reena." Feeling frightened and spooked, he cannot fathom who or what could have written this tormenting word.

Unbeknownst to Blaze, young Joselle Stark has recently moved into her grandmother's nearby farmhouse after being abandoned by her self-centered mother. When Joselle hears about Reena's death, she feels darkly compelled to write disturbing messages to Blaze, using the stones she finds on the hill between them. In this book, as in his others, Kevin Henkes eloquently builds sympathy for the perpetrator as well as the victim, helping young readers understand the traumas and insecurities that cause people to lie and hurt others. When Joselle and Blaze eventually meet and become friends, Joselle hides the truth about the words she once wrote in stone. But when the lie is revealed, Henkes does not create a swift or easy resolution. Instead he becomes more graceful and paced in his writing--allowing the reader to savor the intricacies of betrayal, rejection, and reconciliation. ALA Notable Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Publishers Weekly Best Book, Horn Book Fanfare Honor List. (Ages 10 and older) --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

In this stirring contemporary novel set in rural Wisconsin, Henkes ( Chrysanthemum ; The Zebra Wall ) paints a poignant picture of two lonely children whose paths cross one summer. First introduced is shy, red-headed Blaze, who has recently lost his mother to cancer. Now living with his grandmother and his artist father, the nine-year-old has trouble admitting his fears to anyone except his imaginary friends--until he meets Joselle, an outspoken, spellbinding girl who is staying on the other side of the hill with her Grandma Floy. Alternately showing the points of view of Blaze and Joselle, the book traces the meshing of two private worlds where ordinary objects--keys, spoons, stones, toy animals--carry special meaning. The fragile kinship that grows between the youngsters is threatened by an act of betrayal, yet, ultimately, deep-seated compassion and understanding help mend broken trusts. This story, offering an exceptionally sensitive and accurate portrayal of isolation, echoes feelings and themes found in Brock Cole's The Goats. Henkes, however, goes further in demonstrating the process of emotional healing--and acceptance of painful truths--that allows fear and loneliness to dissipate. His vivid characterizations and profound symbolism are sure to linger in readers' minds. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1st edition (September 16, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688113567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688113568
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,588,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels--one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin. You can visit him online at www.kevinhenkes.com.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was about a shy, fearful boy named Blaze. Ever since his mother died and he got burned in a small carnival fire, Blaze was never the same. Soon, disturbing messages written in stone appeared in his yard. They were about his mom and the fire. But he unknowingly made friends with the perpetrator, Joselle, who might as well be motherless herself. Will they ever reconcile after Blaze discovers Joselle's horrid secret? Check it out. The language is beautiful, and I could identify with Blaze because I'm quiet and fearful myself. Go get it right now!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This was a great book. It was thoughtful, intriguing, and a bit sad. My 9 year old son read it for his 4th grade class, and I was fascinated myself. My son said that learning about these two characters (Blaze and Joselle) teaches you a lot about friendship.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
Gentle, imaginative Blaze has literally buried, beneath stones he has set in a circle, the several imaginary friends who have failed to help him overcome fears dating back years, to his mother's death. He can't swim and is apprehensive of dogs; he's not ready to confide in his nice dad or to paint on the canvas Dad has provided. And he's never managed to get back on the Ferris wheel he rode with his mother just before she died. Meanwhile, Joselle ironically calls her self-centered mom ``The Beautiful Vicki.'' Off with yet another man, Vicki has dumped Joselle with her grandmother. A brash Gilly Hopkins of a child, Joselle nonetheless reaches out to her new neighbor, and the two form a tentative friendship that is helping both until Blaze catches Joselle in a lie--a self-protective habit his example has been inspiring her to overcome--and bitterly rejects her. Still, each has helped move the other toward healthy self-determination; and, in a remarkable conclusion that gathers the story's images and themes together in a few graceful paragraphs, their mutual betrayal is succeeded by a believable reconciliation.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Words of Stone is an outstanding read aloud for middle grade students. I have used this book in a Reader's workshop situation in which students have read books that feature characters in conflict. Henkes writes with awesome description, suspense and lets the reader really get to know the characters, which is what we want our young student authors to learn how to do! I loved this book when I read it and I continue to use it, and many other Kevin Henkes books when teaching 5th grade reading and writing. Hooray for a home-state author! A great book for modeling reading strategies and writing techniques, plus keeping the students hanging on the edge of the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Have you ever done something to a friend that you later regretted? In Words of Stone, Josselle, a main character, writes something horrible about her friend Blaze, that she wishes she could take back, especially after they become such close and faithful friends. The 10 year-old Blaze lives a sorrowful life. Josselle also is an outcast, and her no-nonsense attitude helps her little. When the two meet, they strongly support each other and find the true meaning of friendship.

I cherished this book and an example of friendship spread across the pages. Kevin Henkes offered me vivid descriptions in Words of Stone that made me feel I was on the hillside with Josselle or under a Locus Tree with Blaze. If you crave realistic fiction, then this will be a memorable story for you. This is also a quality reading book packed with fun and vocabulary.

Words of Stone is a 4 ½ star book that all deserve to read. I have often come across a story that caught my emotions, but few of them held my emotions to the end of the story. This was on of those stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Skinner on March 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read this book ten years ago, when I was only 9. Looking back I have realized that it's effect on me was profound. This book is a marvel of children's literature, with deep characters, and symbolism.

This something that is sure to stick with you for a long time. Even having forgotten about it, I realize that what I learned from it was unforgettable.
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By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Turtleback
Blaze is a quiet, shy 10 year old who's mother died of cancer when he was 5. Every July 5th since then Blaze has tried to ride the ferris wheel with a new imaginary friend, and every year, he can't. He then buries his imaginary friend and invents a new one. Joselle is a tough girl who's mother recently dumped her with her grandma, Floy, and runs away with her boyfriend. Joselle is angry and tries to hide her anger from Floy. When Blaze and Joselle meet they become good friends, until Blaze finds out that Joselle had done something terrible to him. I like this book a lot, but when blaze and Joselle meet, both characters change a lot.
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By Bria on January 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not like it a lot at first but at the end it got better. It was easy to read and I skimmed right though it.
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