The Wretched Stone

( 3 )

Overview


In a story recounted through the daily log of Captain Allan Hope, the sailors aboard the Rita Anne become mesmerized and transformed by a mysterious glowing rock, and only music and books can restore them to normal.

A strange glowing stone picked up on a sea voyage captivates a ship's crew and has a terrible transforming effect on them.

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Overview


In a story recounted through the daily log of Captain Allan Hope, the sailors aboard the Rita Anne become mesmerized and transformed by a mysterious glowing rock, and only music and books can restore them to normal.

A strange glowing stone picked up on a sea voyage captivates a ship's crew and has a terrible transforming effect on them.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"As always, Van Allsburg's paintings are magnificent. Cool, clear colors, boldly executed, and unusual perspective accentuate the story's mystery." Booklist, ALA
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A captain's log records the puzzling transformation of his ship's sailors after a glowing rock from an uncharted island is brought aboard. They turn into apes, insensate to the captain's orders and ``fascinated by the rock.'' A storm nearly scuttles the ship but also breaks the stone's hold over the men, who return to normal--except for an inordinate fondness for bananas. Once again, Van Allsburg voyages into an unknown territory that is mystical and eerie--though his somewhat overblown prose substitutes unsettling obfuscation for dramatic storytelling. His sharp-edged, ultra-realistic paintings are a marvel in their own right, from the otherworldly luminiscence of the ominous island to the deep indigos used to create the stillness of the ship and sea by night to oddly angled, even dizzying perspectives of the ship's hold and mast. All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
If there was ever any doubt that too much television is a threat to the human race, Van Allsburg makes his position known in this provocative tale. When a huge, glowing rock is found and loaded onboard a ship, the crew became mesmerized and regresses to an ape-like form. The captain takes matters into his own hands and scuttles the ship and the wretched stone. A great book for classroom discussion.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- Van Allsburg's latest offering may be seen as preachy or provocative, allegorical or obvious, but like much of his previous work, it is bound to attract attention and stimulate discussion. Written in the form of a ship's log, the book outlines the unusual events that take place aboard the Rita Anne after the discovery of a glowing stone on a mysterious, deserted island. In a few brief entries, Captain Randall Ethan Hope notes his initial pleasure in the cultured and convivial crew, details the finding of the luminous stone, and divulges its terrible transformative effect--his shipmates have been turned into primates. When a sudden storm blows up, the Captain expects the worst. However, the ship survives long enough for the men to be rehabilitated and subsequently rescued. The stone is sent to the bottom of the sea by Captain Hope and all on board swear themselves to secrecy. The dramatic illustrations increase the suspense and surprise inherent in the unlikely adventures described. Visual humor, although used sparingly, also adds to the appeal of the colorful paintings. While this picture book could be read merely as an exotic ocean adventure, literacy advocates and fans of book discussions will enjoy ruminating over the symbolism of the mysterious glowing stone and arguing over the interpretation of Van Allsburg's oblique message. --Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395533079
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/1991
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 144,772
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.88 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature. In 1982, Jumanji was nominated for a National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Biography

Multiple Caldecott Medal winner Chris Van Allsburg grew up in the 1950s in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. He majored in sculpture at the University of Michigan's College of Architecture & Design and graduated in 1972. He received his M.F.A. in 1975 from Rhode Island School of Design.

After graduate school, Van Allsburgh set up a sculpture studio in Providence, married and settled in the area, and began exhibiting his work in New York City and throughout New England. Around the same time, he became interested in drawing. His wife, Lisa, encouraged him to pursue children's book illustration, putting him in contact with her friend David Macauley, a successful artist and author. Macauley's editor at Houghton Mifflin was impressed by Van Allsburgh's work and advised him to try his hand at illustrating a story of his own. His maiden effort, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, was published in 1979 and received a Caldecott Honor Medal.

Since that auspicious beginning, Van Allsburgh has gone on to produce a string of wonderfully inventive, critically acclaimed, and award-winning books. He gathers inspiration from unlikely quarters -- the progress of ants across a kitchen counter, crayon streaks in a child's coloring book, a children's board game come to life -- and executes his ideas on a provocative but surefire "What if..." principle.

Among his many awards are two Caldecott Medals -- one for Jumanji, written in 1982 and the other for 1985's The Polar Express; a National Book Award (also for Jumanji); and the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature.

Good To Know

Van Allsburg's grandfather owned and operated the East End Creamery and delivered milk and milk products to homes around the Grand Rapids area in yellow and blue trucks.

One of Van Allsburg's childhood homes was a big, Tudor-styled house on a wide, tree-lined street. He used the street as a model for the cover art of what is arguably his most famous book, The Polar Express.

Because so many students at Van Allsburg's high school excelled academically, representatives from the University of Michigan would visit each year to interview interested seniors and admit them on the spot if they met qualifications. During his senior year, Van Allsburg was told about the art program affiliated with the University's College of Architecture & Design and thought it sounded like fun. Although he had never had any formal art classes, he fibbed to the admissions officer, saying he had taken private lessons outside of school.

Two of Van Allsburg's bestselling books, Jumanji and The Polar Express, were subsequently turned into blockbuster movies.

Van Allsburg is not your typical "feel good" children's author. He has been known to handle darker themes, and his stories often involve bizarre worlds and dreamscapes.

In all his stories, Van Allsburg inserts a little white bull terrier modeled after a real-life dog owned by his brother-in-law. (Another popular children's author, David Shannon, does the same thing, but Shannon's pup is a Westie!)

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    1. Hometown:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 18, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Grand Rapids, Michigan
    1. Education:
      University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    A Mind-Numbing Glowing Orb¿ hhmmm

    This is one of my favorite Chris Van Allsburg books. Chris Van Allsburg, author to gems like The Polar Express, The Stranger, Just A Dream, and The Wreck of the Zephyr, tells another captivating story with a message. This one serves as a great reminder and launching point for discussion, for children and adults alike, about the dangers of too much television. It¿s estimated that the average child watches about 4 hours of TV per day. That calculates out to 28 hours per week or 120 hours per month. Imagine what any one of us could accomplish in that amount of time! The sad truth is that for so many of us parents, the TV becomes a cheap and easy babysitter for our kids. The Wretched Stone is a great story with wonderful illustrations and a very important message.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 5, 2010

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    Posted December 19, 2010

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