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Stick and Stone Hardcover – April 7, 2015
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld
The debut author and bestselling illustrator of Stick and Stone chat about the story’s inspiration, the challenges of bringing the characters to life, and what they hope readers will take away from the book.
(At left: Tom Lichtenheld's first sketch of the book's heroes after reading the manuscript)
Beth, what inspired you to write this story?
BF: My ideas usually come from interesting words or some type of word play, but for Stick and Stone, there was a definite musical inspiration. There is a song by Train called “Drops of Jupiter.” One specific line from that song really stuck with me: “Can you imagine . . . your best friend always sticking up for you, even when I know you’re wrong?” I love that line and I thought yes, I can imagine having a friend like that, and shouldn’t everyone? I thought about that line a lot and the word “stick” just sparked something, especially since it was a homonym. The play on words with a character named Stick sticking up for his friend was irresistible. As was turning the “sticks and stones” idiom on its head.
Tom, what’s your first step when you receive a manuscript written by someone else?
TL: I read it once and, if I like it, I read it again and start doodling visuals in the margins. I liked this manuscript immediately because the storyline is spare yet dramatic, and the perfect rhythm makes it musical. I also liked the challenges of 1), designing a stick and a stone who could be expressive, and 2) creating a world that would be as elegantly simple as the text while allowing for the written action to be visualized.
Beth, this is your debut picture book. What has surprised you about the publishing process?
BF: What surprised me the most was how amazing it would feel to see the art. Of course I had an idea of what Stick and Stone would look like, and I knew I would like them, but I was unprepared for how much I would love what Tom created. I knew the publishing process was slow, but seeing the art, from the initial sketches, to the color samples, and finally to the finished product really helped me get through the long wait. I truly anticipated seeing Tom’s imagination through each stage of the process as he brought Stick and Stone to life.
What do you hope children (and adults) will take away from this book?
TL: Of course, the message is about bullying and standing up for your friends, but I’m not a fan of books with heavy-handed messages (I think kids sniff these out and instinctively reject them), so I hope kids enjoy it as a fun adventure story involving unlikely characters, as much as anything else.
BF: I hope that children will recognize the power of friendship. How one small act or one small word can, and does, make an enormous difference, and could even help to make a lifelong friend. I hope that this book will remind children and adults alike to treasure the friends that they have and to remember that friends can be made in many ways, at any age, in every place.
Do you identify more with Stick or Stone? Or dare I say it, Pinecone?
TL: I probably identify with Stone, because he’s quieter and maybe not quite as bright as Stick. But I also don’t dismiss Pinecone; even though he’s a bully, we brought him back at the very end to apologize for being a jerk, because even people who make mistakes (that would be all of us), can be redeemed and forgiven.
BF: Oh, I think I have a little bit of all three in me. Stick’s pretty much a rule follower, which I definitely was as a child. Stone is sweet and fun, and basically goes with the flow, but rises to the occasion when necessary–something I strive to do. And of course, who hasn’t been prickly now and again?
From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—This stick and stone would never break a bone, as they're too busy caring about each other. Round stone labels himself a "zero" and tall, skinny Stick is only a "one," as they are solitary figures until they come together to form "a perfect 10." Stick sticks up for Stone when bully Pinecone makes fun of the rock, and the two become close companions. Told in rhyming couplets, this warm and tender story of two BFFs is made even more enjoyable by the charming, textured tan and blue illustrations, highlighted with touches of green and red. The pictures range in size from double spreads to small vignettes and deftly convey the two companions' harmonious relationship. Endpapers reveal Stick's and Stone's origins, and the text, suitable for beginning readers, sweetly expresses what it is to be and to have a good friend.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
* ”This warm and tender story of two BFFs is made even more enjoyable by the charming, textured tan and blue illustrations . . . the text, suitable for beginning readers, sweetly expresses what it is to be and to have a good friend.”
—School Library Journal, starred review
"Ferry adds zip to the best-friends-forever theme with plenty of sly puns...and Lichtenheld conveys significant expressiveness through the characters’ dot eyes and small smiles...The use of instantly recognizable objects as characters gives the story universal appeal, and Ferry makes its moral unmissable."
"A light, enjoyable approach to a recognizable narrative about making—and helping—friends."
"Preschoolers looking for a model of good friendship need look no further. Kindness rules the day, and humor, rather than obvious lesson-teaching, moves the story along."
—Horn Book Magazine
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Top customer reviews
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I absolutely loved this book for my daughter. We read a copy form the library tonight and I was very impressed by the simplicity yet power of the message.
The old adage of sticks and stones breaking bones but words not hurting plays out in the first few pages. Then the stick and the stone become friends and show the reader that real friends look out for each other and help when needed.
The art is well done. The story is well done. Overall I was very impressed with this book.