AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS Westchester County Library System, Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award List (2009-2010) Kirkus Reviews
"Daly gives her version of the oft-retold 'Stonecutter' a contemporary setting — dressing small figures in modern clothes and placing them as often as not against urban backdrops. Discontented with the small income he earns from carving huge and widely admired lions and other animals, Sivu wishes to be a rich merchant. Suddenly, he is just that . . . but his discontent only grows, and with successive wishes he becomes the Mayor, the Sun (looming with a smirk over a land that quickly becomes drought stricken), a rain cloud, the wind and finally a mass of stone. Being unrestrained and insensitive in all guises, though, he ends up being more hated than respected. Unlike Gerald McDermott (1975), Demi (1995), Jon J. Muth (2009) and other retellers, the author lets readers draw their own conclusions by electing to end with Sivu feeling his rocky self being cut by another carver but not yet figuring out the implicit lesson. His lack of self-understanding adds another thought-provoking element to a tale identified as Taoist."
"With a contemporary setting and a multiracial cast typical of Daly's native Cape Town, the author and illustrator retells a beautiful ancient Taoist tale of a man who envies those with power until he discovers the true power he finds in making art. Sivu is a stonecutter who can coax a vibrant animal or person out of lifeless rock, but he is bitter and disappointed that he makes so little money. Magically, his wishes to be wealthy and important are granted, but when he becomes both a businessman and a mayor, he turns ugly and mean, and everyone hates him. Then he gets his wishes to be the sun, the rain, and the wind, and he can move everything, except a huge rock, bigger and more powerful than anything else on earth; only a stonemason can bring the rock to life, and Sivu does. The bright, unframed, folk-art-style acrylic paintings contrast Sivu as a powermonger with the forces of the universe. Young people will enjoy the drama caused by sivu's jealousy as well as the surprising end and its celebration of art." Booklist "Daly retells the Taoist tale of Sivu, a stonecutter whose wishes to become increasingly powerful are swiftly granted. Watching jealously, the fickle Sivu wishes to become a businessman, the mayor, the sun, the rain (which blocks the sun), the wind (which blows away the rain clouds), and finally a piece of stone — whereupon he finds himself being hammered on by a stonecutter. Though the story is from ancient China, Daly ( Publishers Weekly To Everything There Is a Season) sets it in modern Africa. Sivu and the people who surround him have an assortment of white and brown faces, cars speed along the highway, and the mayor rides in a white limousine. Spare acrylics are warmed by African oranges, blues, and earth tones. Lighthearted at the start ('What a life!' Daly describes Sivu's career in business. 'With the snap of his fingers . . . he would declare that a shipment of wool was too woolly'), the storytelling darkens progressively ('Soon the country was gripped by drought,' says Daly, after Sivu becomes the sun, 'and everybody cursed him'). A stark portrait of the futility of envy."
Sivu, a poor stone carver, carves the figures he sees within the rocks he shapes. Admiring the home of a wealthy businessman, he wishes he could be one. To his amazement, he suddenly is. But despite his power, no one likes him. When he has to stop for the mayor one day, he wishes to be that powerful; and then he is. He ruins others, and they hate him. One day, giving a speech in the sunshine, he realizes the power of the sun and wants to be him. From there he moves on to become the more powerful rain cloud, then the drying wind. But then his power is stopped by a rock. Becoming a rock, he has come full circle with his ambitious but destructive wishes. There is a sparse quality to the contemporary visualization of this traditional Taoist tale. Stylized acrylic paintings supply sufficient detail to carry the narrative with townspeople in the city, people floating in a storm, and four trees uprooted by the wind. There are added notes on the retelling of the folk tale also known as "The Stone Cutter." Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
PreS-Gr 3—A stunningly illustrated retelling of a Taoist tale from ancient China. Sivu is a talented stonecutter. People are amazed at what he can make from simple rocks. But he doesn't make much money from his craft and soon becomes bitter. While carving an elegant statue for a rich man, he wishes that he could be that rich man and suddenly, he becomes him. However, this does not satisfy him; his wishes for more power escalate, until everyone hates him. When his final wish leaves him as immovable as the earth, he learns a valuable lesson about humility. Daly's folk-style illustrations convey a magical land of desert, ocean, and exotic animals. The exaggerated human figures are stylized and captivating. Simple landscapes underscore a towering Sivu as he becomes the elements of sun, rain, wind, and eventually rock. The tale is a didactic one—be careful what you wish for—and Sivu learns his lesson. An excellent addition to a unit on Eastern philosophy, literature, or religion.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY