Sylvester & The Magic Pebble
Author & Illustrator: William Steig
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Aladdin (April 2, 1987)
When the Librarian Lady pulled this one from the shelf I had to swallow my squeak of delight. I was, after all, there on important business. Left to my untamed instincts I would’ve done a cartwheel while yelling, “I used to LOVE this book.” Needless to say, reviewing this book was a wonderful stroll down memory lane.
This book has pretty detailed illustrations with a rustic feel to them. I personally love them. They remind me a bit of a colour version of Quentin Blake’s. (You’ll know his sketchy style if you loved Roald Dahl books.) It’s the kind of style that looks child-like but, if you’ve ever tried to emulate it you realize that it’s anything but easy to do.
The story, at 32 pages some containing fairly lengthy paragraphs, is not short, but it is LOVELY. And I think this is the balance that needs to be struck:
Word for the sake of words = no good.
BUT words that amount to a wonderful story = good.
The majority of the 64 customer reviews on Amazon.com agreed with me, even though there were a few Debbie Downers. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are people out there who will always find the negative in everything – even heartwarming stories. Yes, there is a poignantly sad bit in the middle of the story, but are children not supposed to be exposed to this??? It’s gonna be a heckuva wake-up call when they realize not everything is roses and sunshine.
Growing List of Considerations for Chunky Charlie
- Evaluate content to make sure that every word counts
- Revisit illustrations to see if some benefit could be gained from ‘polishing’ them a bit more (The Girl in The Castle…)
- Shorten content into a ‘less is more’ approach (The Girl in The Castle…)