The Amazing Bone

( 5 )


Can Pearl, a pig, and her new friend, a small talking bone, outwit a band of robbers and a hungry fox?

The Amazing Bone is a 1976 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and Outstanding Book of the Year, a 1977 Caldecott Honor Book, and a 1977 Boston Globe - Horn Book Awards Honor Book for Picture Books.

On her way home from school, Pearl finds an unusual bone that has ...

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Can Pearl, a pig, and her new friend, a small talking bone, outwit a band of robbers and a hungry fox?

The Amazing Bone is a 1976 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and Outstanding Book of the Year, a 1977 Caldecott Honor Book, and a 1977 Boston Globe - Horn Book Awards Honor Book for Picture Books.

On her way home from school, Pearl finds an unusual bone that has unexpected powers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Pearl (a piglet) discovers a talking bone, which had fallen out of a witch’s basket. . . . This is a tight mesh of witty storytelling and art, bound to please any audience.”—Booklist, Starred Review

“Steig’s inspired language is a miraculous match for his pictures, lovely as well as funny.”—Publishers Weekly

“Another Steig tour de force.”—School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812426786
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/1981
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Bks.
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William Steig (1907-2003) was a cartoonist, illustrator and author of award-winning books for children, including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based. Steig was born in New York City. Every member of his family was involved in the arts, and so it was no surprise when he decided to become an artist. He attended City College and the National Academy of Design. In 1930, Steig’s work began appearing in The New Yorker, where his drawings have been a popular fixture ever since. He published his first children's book, Roland the Minstrel Pig, in 1968.


In 1970, Steig received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. His books for children also include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book; Amos & Boris, a National Book Award finalist; and Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. Steig's books have also received the Christopher Award, the Irma Simonton Black Award, the William Allen White Children's Book Award, and the American Book Award. His European awards include the Premio di Letteratura per l'infanzia (Italy), the Silver Pencil Award (the Netherlands), and the Prix de la Fondation de France. On the basis of his entire body of work, Steig was selected as the 1982 U.S. candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration and subsequently as the 1988 U.S. candidate for Writing.


Stieg also published thirteen collections of drawings for adults, beginning with About People in 1939, and including The Lonely Ones, Male/Female, The Agony in the Kindergarten, and Our Miserable Life.


He died in Boston at the age of 95.

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Reading Group Guide

When I Grow Up
On her way home from school, Pearl observes the grownups in town and thinks about her life as an adult. Ask students to consider their possible future jobs, and to write and illustrate a story describing the reasons for their choices. A career day can also be held in the classroom to introduce students to new possibilities.

Friends Forever
Discuss the unusual friendship between Pearl and the bone. Ask students to list traits possessed by the bone that are conducive to forming a friendship with Pearl. Students may suggest ideas such as loyalty, kindness, cleverness, sense of humor, and sharing a love of music. Then have students write about their own best friend, describing the basis of their friendship and the activities they enjoy doing together.

Language Learning
Pearl's amazing bone can speak in any language. Ask students if they, too, are multilingual and provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their language skills to their classmates. Then encourage students to learn a few words in a new language.

Solving Problems
The amazing bone is a resourceful character who succeeds in rescuing Pearl from two terrible predicaments. Ask students to suggest alternative solutions for Pearl's dilemmas. Then ask them to discuss their own experiences with solving difficult problems. Students can work in small groups to help their classmates resolve current issues in their lives. In addition, students can compare and contrast problem-solving techniques as they read other books in which characters cleverly resolve problems
(including Steig’s Doctor De Soto).

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2004

    Way Too Violent

    I found the violence in this book too much to be overcome even by the pretty water colors. I chose it based on The Caldecott Award and that it is a favorite of Reading Rainbow. I was shocked when I saw that a robber held a gun to the main characters head and other displays of violence. Our kids get enough of this in video games and t.v. and real life in some cases. Do their fairy tales have to be laced with it too?! I was disappointed to say the least. The Caldecott Award will no longer be a way of choosing books for me.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2003


    I'm a 3rd grader who loved this book. The bone talks and it's magical. It can also do magic! The story was funny and interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

    Love the story, but the cover says it is read by Stanley Tucci.

    Love the story, but the cover says it is read by Stanley Tucci.  It is not.  I bought this for my daughter because we both love Tucci's reading of "Shrek.". I was disappointed this book was not as advertised.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    Beautifully Illustrated

    Do you think it is possible to become friends with a bone? This book is about a pig named Pearl who after a day of school doesn¿t go straight home, but rather just walks around watching everyone. While sitting in the forest talking to herself, to her great surprise a bone began to talk to her. This bone could do all sorts of different things such as, talk in different languages and make all sorts of sounds. Pearl is so impressed with the bone that she asked if she could take him with her. The bone agreed and on their way home they run into danger, can the bone save her or not? Read this book and find out about everything that goes on with Pearl and the lifelong friend she makes in the Bone. This book is by William Steig who was born in Brooklyn, New York. He doubles as a wonderful cartoonist, as well as, a multiple award winning children¿s book author. He did not begin writing children¿s books until he was sixty-eight years old however he had been writing for The New Yorker for years. In all Steig has had more than seventy years of writing and drawing cartoons, and has won numerous awards for all of his works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2001

    Spring Fantasy

    Before talking generally about the book, let me share my reaction that children who are sensitive and easily develop fears may find this book to be too much for them. Read this book first before reading it to your child. The sections in question have robbers threatening to kill Pearl the Pig and a fox planning to do the same thing prior to eating Pearl. I found both situations a little rougher on the emotions than the standard Little Red Riding Hood fare in this regard. This story was a Caldecott Honor book in 1977 as one of the best illustrated children's stories of that year. The book has many outstanding features. First, the watercolors and ink outlines nicely convey bright, spring colors and create a light mood. Second, the story has a very funny plot device in having a major character be a talking bone. Third, the plot reversals are quite sudden, dramatic, and emotionally laden. This book will make quite an impression on its readers. Fourth, the book raises very nice questions about all kinds of human relations that will keep you and your child talking for years. Pearl the Pig dawdled in town after school. Her purpose was to watch the grownups doing their work, in order to think about what she might do when she grew up. She watched street cleaners, bakers, and 'old guffers' pitching horseshoes. Then she headed home through the forest. Once there, 'she could almost feel herself changing into a flower' as she looked at the beautiful scene around her. 'I hear something.' 'So do I,' a voice answered. 'I'm the bone in the violets near the tree by the rock on your right.' 'You talk?' 'In any language . . . .' 'And I can imitate any sound there is.' 'How?' 'I don't know. I didn't make the world.' The bone reports that it fell out of a witch's basket in August. The bone didn't want to return. 'I'd be happier with someone young and lively like you.' From out of nowhere, three armed highway robbers wearing masks rushed them, and threatened to shoot Pearl. The bone hissed like a snake and roared like a lion in her purse, and the robbers bolted. Next a fox grabbed her. 'You will be my main course tonight.' The bone claimed to be a ravenous crocodile, but the fox was not fooled. The fox found the bone and put it in his pocket. Just when the fox is about to do away with Pearl, the bone starts in incantation. The fox starts shrinking! Pearl is saved. 'I didn't know you could do magic!' 'Neither did I.' The words 'just came to me.' They went home and told Pearl's distraught parents about their adventures. The bone stayed and became part of the family. The bone rested in an honored place on a silver tray on the mantlepiece, except at night. Then, the Pearl took the bone to bed, and they talked and talked. They also sang. The bone always kept the house full of music and sounds, even when the family didn't want them. As you can see, without the extreme threats of violence, this is a very funny and original story. So if your child likes things a little on the scary side, this will be a five star book. If you child is timid on those issues, avoid this book until that changes. I averaged that perception out to four stars, assuming that most children around 6 could handle the threatened violence and the abductions well as fantasy. The benefit, of course, of a story like this one is to open up the subject of what your child should be doing when alone, when in the presence of strangers alone, and how to handle the kind of events that parents don't like to even think about happening. A good way to begin this discussion is to ask your child what Pearl should have done differently. What could the bone have done differently? If the bone were another child, what should the other child have done? And so forth. You get the idea. Would you like to have a talking bone as a friend? Personally, I'd like to find out more about what kind of music the bone likes to make first. What would

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