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The Secret of the Stones
     

The Secret of the Stones

by Robert D. San Souci, James Ransome (Illustrator)
 

When John and Clara return to their cabin from working in the fields one evening, they are startled to discover that all of their household chores have been done. The mysterious, magical Aunt Easter tells the couple the identity of these unknown benefactors and their connection to the two white stones that Clara keeps in the house. Armed solely with Aunt Easter's

Overview


When John and Clara return to their cabin from working in the fields one evening, they are startled to discover that all of their household chores have been done. The mysterious, magical Aunt Easter tells the couple the identity of these unknown benefactors and their connection to the two white stones that Clara keeps in the house. Armed solely with Aunt Easter's advice and their own affectionate, courageous hearts, John and Clara must confront the evil conjure man. Only then will they solve the secret of the stones and fill the void in their childless home.

Robert San Souci has drawn again from the rich legacy of African-American folklore, as he did in his acclaimed The Hired Hand and The Talking Eggs. And the deep, jewel-like colors of James Ransome's paintings carry the reader into the majestic Ozark mountains and inside this marvelously dramatic and touching story of love and courage.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ransome's (Uncle Jed's Barbershop) strikingly realistic oil paintings form the backbone for San Souci's (The Talking Eggs) retelling of a folktale from Virginia Holladay's Bantu Tales and based on African-American Arkansas lore. As a childless couple walks home after a long day in the cotton fields, Clara finds two white stones that "shone as pale and round and smooth as twin moons in her cinnamon-colored palm." Though John questions their usefulness ("What yo' gonna do with dose li'l rocks?"), his wife brings the stones home. In a rather abrupt transition, the duo returns home from work the next day to discover their chores mysteriously completed. After a clairvoyant neighbor reveals her dream--that the rocks are actually an orphaned boy and girl--she bids John and Clara to visit the "conjure-man" who transformed the children. Though the pacing here is not as fluid as in some of San Souci's retellings, he skillfully blends dialect and atmospheric description (the villain's eyes "were two narrow slits that made him look mean as a rattlesnake"). Ransome's close-up portraits convey the range of emotions for the couple as well as the liberated children, and his rendering of a white conjure-man delivers a strong underlying message. Ages 4-8. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This retelling is drawn primarily from Arkansas folk tales, but has older sources in an African Bantu legend. Childless John and Clara are hard working cotton farmers who find two white stones that seem to perform household tasks while they sleep. The mystery is solved by Aunt Easter who can see "haunts," knows cures, and helps them outwit the conjure-man who has transformed two orphaned children into stone. Threaded with dialect, the story is also made richer by its poetic verses, African-American traditions, and the vivid illustrations by Ransome. 2000, Phyllis Fogelman, Ages 7 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803716407
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Series:
Phyllis Fogelman Books Series
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.43(d)
Lexile:
AD700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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