From the Publisher
Praise for Stonecutter:
“A thoughtful and straightforward look at a man who travels to find out that what he really wants to be is exactly what he is, Stonecutter is a smart book for high school and college graduates. Muth's Zen-like black and white brushstrokes are powerful, while Kuramoto's traditional Japanese folklore stays with the reader long after the book wears out. Stonecutter would also be a moving gift for a professional forced to take a lower paying job.” —Copley News Service
Praise for Jon J Muth:
“Moral without being moralistic, the tale sends a simple and direct message unfreighted by pomp or pedantry. Muth’s art is as carefully distilled as his prose. A series of misty, evocative watercolors in muted tones suggests the figures and their changing relationships to the landscape.” —Publishers Weekly, review of The Three Questions
“. . . Both an accessible, strikingly illustrated story and a thought-provoking meditation. Here Muth incorporates short Buddhist tales. . . . the peaceful, uncluttered pictures, like the story itself, will encourage children to dream and fill in their own answers.” —Booklist, starred review of Zen Shorts
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This unusual hand-size gem of a picture book has 136 unnumbered pages. The Japanese fable within is succinctly retold, one sentence per page on the left with the spare black on white illustrations across the gutter on the right. The story begins with a simple, hard-working cutter of stone blocks. His discontent with his current life leads him to envy, then become, a rich merchant, then a high official. Magic moves into the story as he keeps noticing something more powerful than he is and turning himself into that. In succession he becomes the sun, a cloud, and the wind. But as the wind he is stopped by an immovable stone, ironically faced by a stonecutter, mallet at the ready. The stark, mythic tale is visualized in forceful black ink drawings, surely influenced by Japanese brushwork. Some images are naturalistic, like those of a quartet of fish, but many are symbolic, like the twin spirals of the sun. The absence of detail compels the reader to participate in the construction of much of the story. No added color is needed; as Muth's subtle use of black on the white backgrounds evokes powerful emotions. The elegant cover has raised silver lettering and is enclosed in a narrow, parchment-like band. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Read an Excerpt
The stonecutter stood before the stone, deciding where to begin.
When at last he chose the proper spot, he drove the chisel into the stone with the hammer.
The work was long, slow, and difficult. . . .
“Each morning I go out to cut stones again, just as I have done my entire life. Is there nothing more for me?”