By Heather O.
One mom gave me William Steig’s _Sylvester and The Magic Pebble_. When I opened it and saw the illustration on the cover, I had an immediate emotional reaction to it. I remembered this book. As I stared down at the picture of the donkeys, I couldn’t tell you what the story was about, but I knew that as a child, I had poured over this book. And somewhere inside, some kind of emotional memory was stirring.
“Oh, I remember this book!” I said.
“Yes, it’s a good one,” another mom said. “Kinda emotional, though.”
Still not recalling exactly what happened, I flipped through it. The minute I saw the picture of the lion and the stone, it all came back.
“Yes, Sylvester finds a magic pebble, and turns himself into a rock”, I murmered, still flipping.
The other mom said, “And the parents lose their child. It’s a book about loss, and then reunion. The parents experience the loss of a son, and he experiences the separation from his family. It’s a very emotionally wrenching story.”
I’m sure as a kindergartner, I would not have said I like the book because it’s ‘emotionally wrenching’. Still, as an adult, I could see her point.
For those of you who do not know this story, it’s about a young donkey who finds a magic pebble. The pebble grants any wish of his heart. As he is taking this pebble home to his parents, he runs into a hungry lion. He panics, and wishes he was a rock. And so he becomes a rock.
His parents go looking for him, and of course can’t find him. They finally call off the search, devastated. A year goes by, and in the spring, they decide to go for a picnic to try to cheer themselves up. They find Sylvester the rock, and set up their picnic on him. He feels their presence, but still can’t be with them. Then his father notices the magic pebble, and picks it up and puts in on the rock. Sylvester wishes with all his might to be himself again, and presto, he becomes their beloved son once more.
They take the pebble home, but they put it away. The book ends with these words:
Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for?
They all had all that they wanted.
This morning, as I cuddled with my 5 year old while my little newborn lay curled in the crook of her Daddy’s arm, I realized I wouldn’t know what to do with a magic pebble either. I already have all that I’ve wanted.
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