Jennifer's Reviews > Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
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's review
Mar 16, 2011

it was amazing
Read in March, 2011

Sylvester the donkey finds a magic pebble that grants his wishes. In a moment of fear, Sylvester wishes he was a rock with disastrous consequences. Will Sylvester ever be himself again? Will he be reunited with his parents?

I know this book is considered to be a "controversial" book because they policemen are pigs in the illustrations. I have read this book many times as a child and as a parent to my own children. It never even crossed my mind to make the connection of the negative connotation of the pigs as policemen. There are other neighbors and children who are depicted as pigs/piglets in the book. In fact, all of the characters are animals of some type, so I don't think there was any subliminal message by the author here about policemen.

Themes: feelings, family, family is more important than material possessions
Published: 1969
Grades: K-3
Award: Caldecott, ALA Notable Children's Book

Classroom uses:

Cause and Effect - Students can make a chart of of causes and effects of the events in the story.

Discuss how changing Sylvester's wish might change the outcome of the story. Have students change Sylvester's wish and rewrite the end of the story.

Feelings - Both Sylvester and his parents go through a range of emotions through the course of the story. Make a list of the feelings children notice in the story. Talk about times they may have felt the same way.

The teacher could use this book with a unit on seasons. The books depicts all of the seasons and the different types of weather. Discuss each season and have the students tell what their favorite season is and why it is their favorite.

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