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Sylvester and the Magic Pebble    by William Steig order for
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
by William Steig
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2005 (1987)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This deluxe edition of the Caldecott Medal winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble comes with the author's Caldecott acceptance speech at the back. In it, Steig tells us that juvenile literature 'helps us to know life in a way that still keeps before us the mystery of things'. He illustrates his own work in evocative watercolors.

Sylvester Duncan (a young donkey) lives with his parents at Acorn Road and collects 'pebbles of unusual shape and color', as do most boys at some stage in their lives. One rainy Saturday, he finds an extraordinary one, that grants wishes. He can have anything he wants! But when he bumps into a lion, Sylvester panics and wishes himself into a rock. Now he's stuck as he's no longer able to pick up the pebble.

His parents worry and search for him, along with all the dogs in Oatsdale. When they don't find him, 'Life had no meaning for them any more.' Fall comes and then winter, as Sylvester sinks into 'endless sleep'. In the spring, his parents try to cheer up with a picnic on Strawberry Hill. Mrs. Duncan sits on a rock and Mr. Duncan finds a pebble and remarks how much Sylvester would have liked it.

Of course, Sylvester is restored to his normal form - can you guess how? And the three of them have everything they wanted - what more could they have possibly wished for? Both kids and adults will enjoy this sweet story that uses separation and reunion to remind us all what really matters to us.

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