The Stonecutter: An Indian Folktale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This stylish retelling of a folktale from India, reminiscent of the story of the flounder and the fisherman, concerns a poor stonecutter who prays to the mountain spirit for comfort and wealth. After each of his wishes is granted, the stonecutter is surprised to find that he is still discontented. As a rich merchant, he longs to be an even richer king; as the wind, he longs to be an immovable mountain. Finally, he realizes that ``stone by stone, even a mountain is nothing compared to a stonecutter,'' and having become a stonecutter again, he is ``truly happy.'' Newton's pastel art ingeniously blends abstract, rounded shapes with Indian motifs. The stonecutter's face appears in the center of the sun, ``as his thousand wheeling arms searched the earth for a king.'' Especially noteworthy is the lyrical text, which is as smooth and polished as the stonecutter's well-wrought blocks. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-- This fable of human dissatisfaction and the greedy wish for ``more'' is familiar in many versions. The stonecutter's ambitions transform him (thanks to the mountain spirit) into a merchant, a king, the sun, a cloud, the wind, a mountain--and back to a stonecutter at last, happy with his new understanding of the relativity of power. Newton's retelling is polished and has read-aloud potential. Her illustrations are far different from Gerald McDermott's well-known treatment of the tale (Penguin, 1975). The curving stylization of forms here evokes the art of India, the probable source of the story. Newton uses pale, minimally shaded color: luminous lemon-yellow, warm orange, and a range of blue-greens. The placement of the framed text on the page and the flat-space juxtaposition of forms also recall Indian design conventions. A book worth putting on the folktale shelf, even if it sits next to another retelling. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399221873
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/23/1990
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 20.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 20.00 (d)

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