The Day the Stones Walked

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Overview

Pico's father isn't like the other fathers on Easter Island. Instead of building boats or hunting octopus, he sculpts the giant stone figures that he believes, in times of trouble, will rise and walk.

Impossible, thinks Pico, until the Great Wave crashes into the island and Pico experiences firsthand the wonder of the stones.

In this stunning tale of faith and the humbling power of nature, T. A. Barron and William Low envision life as it might ...

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Overview

Pico's father isn't like the other fathers on Easter Island. Instead of building boats or hunting octopus, he sculpts the giant stone figures that he believes, in times of trouble, will rise and walk.

Impossible, thinks Pico, until the Great Wave crashes into the island and Pico experiences firsthand the wonder of the stones.

In this stunning tale of faith and the humbling power of nature, T. A. Barron and William Low envision life as it might have been on the mysterious Easter Island . . . before the stones became the island's only inhabitants.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Ably balancing fact and legend, Barron (the Great Tree of Avalon trilogy) sets this dramatic, crisply told tale on Easter Island centuries ago. Pico's mother expresses alarm at the ominous clouds above, observing that they are "just like the ones I saw as a child, right before the Great Wave." As she hastens to warn the villagers, the woman dispatches her son to tell his father to flee "to the highest caves." Pico finds the man on a ridge above the sea, carving an ear on one of the moai, giant ancient stones with hand-carved faces. The lad is skeptical of old stories maintaining that the moaicome to life and help islanders in times of trouble. Yet his father, who is a believer, refuses to hide from what is indeed an approaching tsunami and tells his son that the imposing stones "are our ancestors. Our protectors". As the water rushes to the shore, Pico tries again to warn his father, but is swept up by the wave. Frantically trying to survive underwater, the boy grabs on to a submerged moaiand it suddenly seems to shift beneath him and carry him to dry ground. Low (Henry and the Kite Dragon) deftly integrates light and shadow into his grainy paintings, which strikingly contrast the fright of the flailing, near-drowning boy and the steadfast, comforting presence of the powerful stones. In a concluding note, Barron sheds historical light on the mystery of Easter Island's moaiand on theories behind the "self-inflicted environmental disaster" that may have wiped out the island's original inhabitants. Ages 6-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Challenged by the mysterious statues on Easter Island, Barron combines what he has learned of old legends on the island with personal experience to spin a tale of a boy’s attempt to warn his father of danger and of his miraculous survival. When a great wave is predicted, Pico’s father is carving among the moai. Pico tries to warn him, but his father trusts the spirits of the ancestors in the moai to protect them. When the wave slams Pico down, the stones seem to save him. Low’s naturalistic double-page scenes are visualized to emphasize the dramatic quality of the story. He employs Adobe Photoshop to create the rough stone textures of the carvings, the spray of breaking waves, and the swirling ribbons of seaweed, using intense colors contrasting with black on the jacket and deep blue end-pages. The stone heads are viewed from many perspectives, including under the waves. A note adds information on the statues and the author’s contact with them. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4
Legend has it that the enormous stone statues on Easter Island can help the people when they are in danger. Aware of an approaching tsunami, young Pico runs to warn his father, who is carving one of the stones. Pico is engulfed by the towering wave, gets tangled in seaweed, and is saved only by holding onto one of the totems: "Half drowned, I barely held on. All at once, the statue seemed to shift beneath me. To lift me higher. And then-To walk." Using a palette made up of browns, greens, and blues in Adobe Photoshop, the artist depicts the statues in dramatic, sometimes eerie spreads (" . . . great chins jutted, dark eyes peered, and harsh brows loomed, on bodies that stood six or seven times taller than me"); the big wave as it crashes on shore; and the boy as he struggles underwater. A touching illustration on the final pages shows Pico being embraced by his father. The author also provides some fascinating information about the statues and the ancient culture that created them. This picture book will be enjoyed by children who are old enough to deal with the fantastical and scary elements in the story.
—Kirsten CutlerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Set on Easter Island, this text-heavy tale imagines the impact of a tsunami on the ancient inhabitants. Told through the eyes of a young boy, the day's events unfold quickly. At his mother's request, Pico runs up to warn his father of an impending storm. Obviously disdainful of his father's preoccupation with carving the enormous statues of their ancestors, Pico delivers his message and heads home. When he sees the huge wave coming and realizes the threat is real, however, he tries to return to his father. Swept up and tumbled about, Pico is saved by catching hold of-or being held by?-one of the great stone figures. Despite their differences, Pico's father is clearly overjoyed at his survival. Low's computer-generated illustrations, resembling oil paintings, perfectly capture the ponderous weight of the stone statues and the threatening darkness of the impending storm. While the story may have the potential to engage thoughtful listeners, the appended author's note seems clearly aimed at environmentally conscious adults. Earnest but ultimately unlikely to get the message across. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399242632
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/10/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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