Stonecutter

Stonecutter

by Jon J Muth, John Kuramoto
     
 

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This adaptation of a Chinese folktale begins with a man's dissatisfaction with his life. Weary of being a stonecutter, he becomes many things in his quest for authority, each time finding that greater power lies elsewhere. Rooted in Taoist principles, Stonecutter is a story about the nature of power and the value of accepting who you are.

Originally

Overview

This adaptation of a Chinese folktale begins with a man's dissatisfaction with his life. Weary of being a stonecutter, he becomes many things in his quest for authority, each time finding that greater power lies elsewhere. Rooted in Taoist principles, Stonecutter is a story about the nature of power and the value of accepting who you are.

Originally published in a limited, fine art edition and long out of print, this is one of Jon J Muth's most heartfelt and exquisite works, and a book he entrusted to Feiwel and Friends to reach a wide new audience.

Editorial Reviews

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
From the Publisher
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466871434
Publisher:
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
136
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Stonecutter


By Jon J Muth, John Kuramoto

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 1994 John Kuramoto
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7143-4



CHAPTER 1

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, and slow, and difficult.

The stonecutter's hands were as strong and rough as the stone they cut.

As he worked, the stonecutter thought to himself, "This stone is as old as the earth, and will be here long after I am gone."

"Each night I go home covered in dust millions of years old."

"Each morning I go to cut stones again, just as I have done my entire life.

Is there nothing more for me?"

The stonecutter chiseled the stone into blocks, cutting each block according to the stone's natural shape.

"Perhaps this will be made into bricks for a temple, or a wealthy man's palace."

"Perhaps it will be carved into a beautiful sculpture."

"But I have only uncarved blocks to offer."

The stone yielded to the stonecutter's tools in fragments, taking shape under his hands.

"I have no authority. I have no power."

When he finished the stone block, he took it to town to sell.

There he passed by many merchants, and finally sold his block to one of them.

The stonecutter looked at the merchant, wearing clothes rich and fine.

And he knew that the merchant would sell the stone block for much more money than he had given the stonecutter, without the slightest labor on his part.

The stonecutter cursed his aching back. He cursed his poverty and lowly status.

He cursed the past that brought him here and the future that would take him nowhere.

He decided to abandon his life as a stonecutter and become a merchant.

And so he became a merchant, trading things instead of making them, and he became very rich.

He lived in luxury, without having to work hard, for now there were others to do the hard work for him.

His hands became delicate and soft, his manners refined.

Other people envied his good fortune.

But one day, a high official passed by in a grand procession, and everyone, rich or poor, had to bow down to him.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Stonecutter by Jon J Muth, John Kuramoto. Copyright © 1994 John Kuramoto. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JON J MUTH has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books including his Caldecott Honor title, Zen Shorts, which Kirkus proclaimed, "As perfect a picture as can be"; and The Three Questions, which the New York Times Book Review called "quietly life-changing." His newest book, Zen Ties, debuted this spring and immediately landed on the New York Times bestseller list. He lives in New York State with his wife and four children.


JOHN KURAMOTO has collaborated on the text for many comic books and graphic novels, including The Crow. He lives in New York State.


JON J MUTH has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books including his Caldecott Honor title, Zen Shorts, which Kirkus proclaimed, “As perfect a picture as can be”; and The Three Questions, which the New York Times Book Review called “quietly life-changing.” His book Zen Ties was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York State with his wife and four children.
JOHN KURAMOTO has collaborated on the text for many comic books and graphic novels, including The Crow, as well as Jon J Muth's Stonecutter. He lives in New York State.

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