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Review of A Stone for Sascha

A Stone for Sascha
by Aaron Becker; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.    g
5/18    978-0-7636-6596-8    $17.99

Heartbreak turns into healing in this wordless tale about loss, the ways in which we ritualize grief, and the cyclical patterns of life on Earth, no less. A girl and her family bury their beloved dog in the yard, the girl’s anguish apparent as she places flowers on the stone covering the burial spot. At the beach, the girl throws a rock into the ocean. 
Dramatically, viewers are then swept back to the time of the dinosaurs, witnessing a meteor strike the Earth. An early human later discovers part of the meteorite, a large, gold-colored chunk protruding from the ground. The meteorite makes its way through centuries, becoming progressively smaller — first it’s used as an obelisk, then part of an enormous Buddha statue, then a keystone of a bridge, and so on — with dogs at each stop. Along with other rich tones (the brown of the girl’s skin, blue-purple landscapes), Becker uses the color gold as a thread throughout the narrative to identify the meteorite’s many iterations. In the end, the girl, under a sweeping night sky, picks up the very stone that has worked its way through time and places it on the grave of her dog. This circular, layered tale is marked by Becker’s sumptuous, cinematic spreads. Even more epic than his Journey trilogy (Journey, rev. 9/13, and sequels), this is a story that provides new details and new understandings with multiple viewings.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

Julie Danielson About Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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