Book Review: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

1. Bibliography
Steig, William. 1969. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. New York: Windmill Books/Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416918578.

2. Plot Summary
One day Sylvester Duncan the donkey discovers a magic pebble which will grant the owner any wish made while holding the pebble. On his way home to share his discovery with his friends and family, Sylvester encounters a lion; in his fright, Sylvester thinks, “I wish I were a rock” (7). Because of the magic pebble, Sylvester does indeed turn into a rock and finds himself unable to take hold of the pebble to wish himself back into a donkey. His parents search frantically for him; after a year of unsuccessful searching, Sylvester’s parents take a picnic and use the Sylvester-rock as a table. Mr. Duncan finds the magic pebble and sets it on the rock, thinking to take it home. Back in contact with the magic pebble once more, Sylvester is able to wish himself back into a donkey and is reunited with his family.

3. Critical Analysis
From the outset of Sylvester’s adventure, the rich watercolor illustrations help tell the story. Knowing only the title of the book, the reader can examine the illustrations and follow the plot of the story as Sylvester collects his pebbles, falls into misadventure, and then is returned to his family. The reader can clearly see Sylvester’s wonder at discovering the magic pebble, excitement at the thought of sharing it with his family, and terror at encountering the lion. Each two-page spread illustrating the seasons helps the reader fully grasp the amount of time passing and the loneliness Sylvester must experience as a rock on the hill. When the family reunites, the expression of joy on each donkey’s face moves the reader to share in the excitement of the moment.

The story unpacks the important theme that family is the most important thing one can have. As Sylvester uses the pebble to wish the weather how he desires and to try to make life easier, he finds himself stranded as a rock, unable to communicate or do anything except sleep on the hill. He is separated from his family, which causes distress not only in his family, but also among his friends and community. Once Sylvester is able to transform back into his true form and be reunited with his family, they collectively come to the realization that as long as they have family, there is nothing else they wanted.

4. Review Excerpt
1970 Caldecott Medal

From Publishers Weekly: “This tale of a donkey who wishes on a magic pebble has charmed a generation of readers and will no doubt go on to attract a new one.”

5. Connections
-Read Disney’s Lilo & Stitch (ISBN 9780717266616) in light of the quote, “‘Ohana’ means ‘family’ and family means no one gets left behind,” and brainstorm how children can express their appreciation for their families.
-Use as an example in an art unit about watercolor

(Created in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the TWU course LS5603.20 Literature for Children and Young Adults)

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Laugh, Cry, or Both?

I found this draft while cleaning up my tagging system. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, and since the brotherly advice still holds true I decided to add an update for 2014 as well.

 

One of my brothers recently shared with me a piece of wisdom: “If at the end of the year you have done nothing to either make you laugh, cry, or both, then you have wasted a year.” This year is not quite over, but I thought it’s  close enough to go ahead and spend a few moments in reflection.

2013 Cry-Worthy Events:

  • My best friend moved half way across the nation
  • Meeting the man I hoped to marry, only to have him decide it wasn’t reciprocal
  • Getting hopelessly lost in Fort Worth and accidentally driving into an airplane factory

2013 Laugh-Worthy Events:

  • Playing ridiculous games with my family
  • Icemegeddon causing unintended dances on the stair-well
  • Spending five minutes on the phone with my graduate school trying to explain that I am not a high school student, but am, in fact, enrolled in their grad program

Okay, now let’s try this for this more recent year!

2014 Cry-Worthy Events:

  • Family drama
  • More family drama? Outside of that it was a pretty good year…

2014 Laugh-Worthy Events:

  • Watching my 7-year-old niece and several-month-old nephew roll around in the floor laughing and giggling for no reason
  • Eating gourmet ice cream standing in the rain in downtown Dallas with the bestie
  • Sitting in line forever to watch The Fault in Our Stars with mis amigas.
  • Spontaneously attending a Stars game

The Last Week of Summer

 

This is the last week of summer for me.

Next Monday my grad classes start up again, which I’m both excited about and dreading. Excited because this semester promises to be the best one yet. I’m taking a class about web coding and a one about the specific library type I work in, both of which I’m pretty passionate about. Students will be returning to the university library where I work, and I have a part-time teaching opportunity. This semester looks great.

But I’m not ready for summer to end.

Summer is the time of freedom. Weekends spent at my family’s house, weeks spent hosting teen-aged nieces, evenings spent cooking elaborately delicious dinners, and hours spent pleasure-reading and watching Netflix. I can do whatever I want without having to deal with the guilt and stress of not doing homework.

And all of that is going to be over in 6 short days.

Five-Minute-Friday: Fill

Every Friday we silence the inner critics and write for five minutes without listening to the small voices telling us we’re not good enough. We write, and up from our souls bubbles beauty and a breathtaking glimpse of God’s glory. This week’s prompt is “Fill.”

Go

The moments of my life where I’ve experienced the greatest connection with my family and close friends have always been over a cup filled to the brim with something delicious. Chai tea, southern iced sweet tea, coffee, hot chocolate, white mocha latte’s – these aromas make me think of family bonding.

Life lessons learned, hearts shared, great issues of the universe discussed.

This is how my heart is filled and how I fill others’, with a cup of love filled to the top.

So sit down, let me fill your cup, and let’s talk.

Stop

If you would like to join us in celebrating life unedited, join us here.

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