Reviewed by Louise Higgs
I was really excited when I received the book ‘A Stone Sat Still’ written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel to review. I think it is very important to teach children about nature, through books and exploration, so I knew this book was going to go down very well with me and my toddler.
Brendan Wenzel is an author and illustrator based in New York, and a New York Times bestseller. He has also written the books ‘Hello Hello’ and ‘They All Saw a Cat,’ which received a Caldecott Honour. You can tell, through his writing, that he is a proud collaborator of organisations fighting to protect wild places and endangered animals.
The cover of the book is beautifully illustrated with a snail sat upon a large stone, which I think looks like and might resemble the world, through the choice of colours (blues, greys and greens). The beautiful illustrations continue throughout the entire book, which include; pencil drawings, paintings, collage and clever, cut-paper illustrations. The colours in the book really do reflect the natural colours of different landscapes and creatures. I found the illustrations really soothing and almost calming. There is limited text on each page, which makes you focus on the stunning drawings. The fact that there is limited text, means that children can focus on several words (if learning to read) rather than being bombarded by sentences and sentences. My toddler loved looking at the pictures and talking through them, whilst we read out loud.
The story is based around a simple stone. The stone provides different functions for all sorts of different animals, from a kitchen for otters to a map for an ant. The different creatures all have a totally different perspective of the stone, which sends a great message to children about how everybody perceives the world differently. The book shows how the stone is a completely different texture depending on the animal – rough for a slug and smooth for a porcupine. It explores different colours (depending on the season); different sizes; senses (touch and smell); and different times. The book is extremely clever at providing the reader with a lesson in other’s perspectives and experiences, which I feel is invaluable for children, as well as being an important reminder for older readers/parents.
Wenzel provides readers with a strong environmental message, which is very important in this day and age. After reading the book, me and my family went out for a nature walk and my toddler took it upon herself to start collecting stones. I thought it was very sweet at the time, and when we got home she wanted to read ‘A Stone Sat Still’, then I realised that she had been provoked into collecting different sized/textured/coloured stones due to the book. This made me love the book even more, because I knew that it had made a noticeable impression on my little girl.
‘A Stone Sat Still’ would be an ideal Christmas present for children of all ages. I will definitely be looking into Brendan Wenzel’s other books, as ‘A Stone Sat Still’ was a complete hit with my children, and my partner really loved reading the book to them at bedtime too. A highly recommend this book and I have already persuaded my friends to buy it for their children for Christmas.
RRP: £12.99 (hardback)
Available to buy from Amazon here.