Around the end of the first week of every month, a large pile of new books appears in the office, ready for me to catalogue into the library. Today’s pile had a book full of memories; a story half-remembered.
Consider Sylvester, a young donkey, with a penchant for collecting pebbles. One rainy day he finds a pebble as beautiful as the flaming sun, but that’s hardly the most extraordinary thing about it. This pebble grants wishes, much to Sylvester’s joy.
Things take a turn for the worse, when he makes a spur-of-the-moment bad wish, and turns into a rock to escape from a lion.
As Sylvester spends many a solitary month as a donkey-sized rock, the wishing pebble lies nearby, close enough to stare at, but too far for a stone to touch. Steig approaches this lonely passage of time with themes like love and loss, the efficiency of a society during an incident, the transforming beauty of nature through seasons and eventually, gratitude.
William Steig is perhaps best known for a story you might just have heard of- Shrek. A cartoonist for most of his career, his style is evocative and unmistakable. Going back to my childhood memory of this book, the red pebble has unforgettably gleamed through.
What are some of your childhood favourites that you’ve passed along to the next generation? [These questions bear an expectation of answers in the comments section]
Writer at Art1st
PS. Is it odd that I don’t find a family of donkeys wearing clothes at a picnic strange at all? (Thanks a bunch, George Orwell…)