Review of A Stone Sat Still

A Stone Sat Still
by Brendan Wenzel; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Chronicle    56 pp.
8/19    978-1-4521-7318-4    $17.99

This multilayered companion to Wenzel’s Caldecott Honor Book They All Saw a Cat (rev. 11/16) starts and ends with similar images of the same large stone. “A stone sat still with the water, / grass, and dirt / and it was as it was / where it was in the world.” As if placed on a stage, the stone remains as the years advance. Its qualities appear to change depending on how creatures interact with it (rough to a slug, but smooth to a hedgehog), Wenzel once again reminding readers that our perspectives shape how we see things. In the story, we are usually on the ground with the stone, save for some playful points of view, such as a colossal moose’s (to whom “the stone was a pebble”). After an impressive wordless double-page spread on which rolling waters submerge the stone, Wenzel shifts the book’s tone and pace by directly addressing readers: “Have you ever known such a place?” Look closely in the sun-drenched waves to see the outline of what looks like an adult and child holding hands. Wenzel’s textured illustrations include pops of color on earth-toned spreads. Light and shadow are also used to dramatic effect, as when the moonlit stone appears bright to an owl. The stone sits still, but the reader will be moved by this thought-provoking meditation on memory and the passage of time.

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
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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