Gr 4-6 Through fantasy surrounding a stick that seems to have the power to persuade, Sarah, a young girl lacking in self confidence, finds that her self-esteem grows and that her influence prevents a family tragedy. After using the stick for fun, Sarah tries to ignore it, for its use exhausts her, but it seems to have a power over her. Soon Sarah discovers that she can use the stick to influence her oldest brother Donald's rebellious behavior. In the climactic scene, however, Sarah succeeds without the stick in convincing Donald not to commit suicide. Her confidence has grown, and readers may wonder if the stick was just a symbolic crutch to help her achieve this. Sarah is basically a well-drawn character with whom readers can empathize. As a fantasy the story holds promise, but the introduction of the family conflict centered on Donald's despair is awkward and predictable. The climax is contrived, although there is a welcome transition from fantasy-based self-esteem to its development through Sarah's personal strength and her love for Donald. This is similar in premise to Roald Dahl's The Magic Finger (Harper, 1983), although Dahl's protagonist is self-assured . Although this does not match the quality of Townsend's The Intruder (1970; o.p.) or Dan Alone (1983, both Lippincott), The Persuading Stick will capture its readers as they seek to understand Sarah and the stick's power over her. Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, N.J.