The Clever Stick

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The stick has always been clever: it solves difficult problems, enjoys poetry, and ponders the music of birds and the beauty of a rose. The one thing it can’t do is speak. And because of this, no one can see that the stick is clever; all they can see is a stick. John Lechner, the creator of A Froggy Fable, follows the most unlikely of heroes on a journey of self-discovery, arriving at a place that will surprise and enchant readers everywhere.

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The stick has always been clever: it solves difficult problems, enjoys poetry, and ponders the music of birds and the beauty of a rose. The one thing it can’t do is speak. And because of this, no one can see that the stick is clever; all they can see is a stick. John Lechner, the creator of A Froggy Fable, follows the most unlikely of heroes on a journey of self-discovery, arriving at a place that will surprise and enchant readers everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The unlikely hero-a sharp, wooden stick-of Lechner's (Sticky Burr) fable about expressing oneself has an extraordinary mind (a watercolor spot shows a thought balloon above the stick that reads "a2+b2=c2"). Because he can't speak, though, he can't share his knowledge and feelings. "When he came across a frog writing a poem, he wanted to share a simile about the sun being like a dragon. But he could not." Then the stick realizes that his sharp end leaves a line in the sand. He can draw, and, for the first time, the world recognizes his existence: "As he scribbled, the plants and animals gathered around and watched in rapt attention." The stick's sand drawing is a tapestry of fantasy elements: a castle, a dragon, woodland creatures on sailing ships. When the rain soon washes it away, "the stick didn't care.... He knew at last he had found his voice." It's a triumphant moment. Our best gifts, Lechner seems to say, may not lie where we expect, but it is only in their pursuit that we find ourselves. Ages 5-8. (July)

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Children's Literature - Leona Illig
A stick lives in a beautiful forest and enjoys listening to the birds, composing poetry, and thinking about interesting ideas. There is only one problem: he cannot speak. Therefore, he cannot share any of his thoughts with the animals and flowers. He feels isolated and sad. Then, by accident, the stick discovers that there is one thing that he can do: draw. Finally able to communicate with the world around him, he draws a magnificent mural on the ground. The forest creatures are delighted. The stick has "found his voice," and with it, his place in the forest community. This is the rare picture book that will enchant both children and adults. The author's simple language will inspire and surprise his audience. Adults will be amused by the puns and word play, and they will probably welcome a book that gives them an opportunity to talk to children about poetry, mathematics, and nature. The illustrations are varied, from simple to complex, and the colors are soft and lovely. The length of the book is ideal for young children. This is an ideal picture book. It is a charming tale with an ending that will delight and inspire its listeners, as well as make them smile. Highly recommended. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–In the tradition of Peter H. Reynolds’s The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004, both Candlewick), a clever stick finds its voice through art. The stick had always been smart, making up poetry, thinking of mathematical equations, and appreciating the beauty of nature. But since it couldn’t speak, it could not share its wisdom with the animals and plants. Then one day, it realizes that when it drags through the sand, it can draw pictures. In a flurry of self-discovery, the stick creates a magnificent mural that makes all of the forest creatures cheer. And although the masterpiece is erased by the rainfall that follows, the stick knows it can always make another one. This pleasant little allegory features sweet nature-friendly pictures that aptly illustrate the story. It would be best appreciated by quiet, thoughtful children.–Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The titular stick is clever because "ever since he had fallen off the tree, he had been sharp." He thinks things up (like the Pythagorean Theorem), but because he has no voice he cannot share his thoughts. He can draw, though, and he makes a pretty keen drawing in the sand, with a castle and boats in the lake and a dragon, and all the animals and insects approve. The rain washes it away, but the stick knows he can make another one. The narrative suffers on a couple of fronts. It never overcomes the challenge inherent in making a stick, however talented, a genuinely engaging character, and the illustrations are problematic. There's no real sense of place, with the forest, the lake with a sandy shore and a meadow all modulating from one to the other with no communication of specific geography. Neither birds nor plants are distinguished, and the wild field rose looks exactly like a hothouse long-stemmed red beauty. Hard to see what might grab children's attention or affection. (Picture book. 4-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763639501
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 688,057
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lechner is an artist, animator, multimedia designer, and puppeteer, and the author-llustrator of the picture book A FROGGY FABLE and the graphic storybook STICKY BURR: ADVENTURES IN BURRWOOD FOREST. He lives in Needham, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2014

    Who would believe that an ordinary, unassuming stick could becom

    Who would believe that an ordinary, unassuming stick could become the main character in a children's storybook?  This creative, uplifting fable is perfect to share with your kids.  Lechner's words and story are lyrical and feel just like a modern day fairytale.  It is a wonderful read- aloud to share together.

    The author writes: " Ever since he had fallen off the tree, he had been sharp. (that line got my attention right away, yes, a smart stick).  He would sit in the sand and think up all sorts of clever things. He would float down the stream, making up poetry.  He would listen to the singing of the birds and wonder what made it sound so beautiful." Stick was very observant, but his problem was he had no voice, he was mute, therefore he could not communicate with those around him much to his chagrin. 

    Lechner proposes a brilliant solution for Stick, allotting him not only to discover his voice but to discover a deeper meaning to his life by being able to leave his mark on his world.   The artwork is subdued and beautifully done. The book has many ideas and opportunities for you to discuss the importance of self-expression and the value of communicating and writing.  You can also explore the significance of flexibility and providence.  It encourages kids to enhance their gifts and talents and to have fun with the possibilities.  It is a perfect book for the beach or for a snowy then introduce your child to his/her personal voice stick and have your child playfully respond to his/her world by writing in the sand or on the snow.  Highly recommended. 

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