Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
by William Steig
Sylvester Duncan, a donkey, collects “pebbles of unusual shape and color,” but he never dreamed he’d discover a pebble that grants wishes. After he finds one that’s “flaming red, shiny, and perfectly round, like a marble,” he grows cold and soggy from the rain and wishes the storm would stop. The storm does stop--not gradually, but suddenly. “It CEASED.” Sylvester thinks there must be magic in that red pebble, so he tries some other wishes. All of them are granted! But just then, a lion comes along, and he panics: “I wish I were a rock,” Sylvester says. And he becomes a rock. The red magic pebble lay right next to him, powerless to grant Sylvester any wishes. Meanwhile, his parents become worried. They ask neighbors if they’ve seen Sylvester; they go to the police. With each passing day, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan grow more miserable. So does Sylvester (“He felt he would be a rock forever and he tried to get used to it”). But one fine spring day, the Duncans go for a picnic and set out their meal on Sylvester’s very back! One thing leads to another, and the family is reunited again! Steig’s beautiful watercolor illustrations capture the melancholy of the separated family and the joy of their reunion. The wise author-artist lets youngsters know that often we already have everything we need.