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story.lead_photo.caption A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

TITLE: A Stone Sat Still

By Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle Books, Aug. 27), 56 pages, $17.99

STORY: There was a stone. It was not anthropomorphic. It "sat still with the water, grass, and dirt, and it was as it was where it was in the world."

Like the cat in Wenzel's They All Saw a Cat, this rock was something different to everything that saw it.

We see it as a platform or backdrop to many lives, each plant or creature rendered in cut paper, paint or pencil and its relation to the stone described in calm, contradictory phrases. A pebble to a moose, it was a mountain to a bug. Its shadows worried a chipmunk; its brilliance made a perch for a hunting owl.

It was a kitchen for predators but a refuge for the hunted. It was a smell, a feeling, a marker, a maze, a map.

The stone takes on deeper meaning with a wordless page covered by waves and sky. And the next page, where the stone has become a memory and the owl flies on without stopping ... and the next page, where waves suggest a parent and a child ...

Here is a lovely, cute, scary, humor-rich picture book written for preschoolers but so artfully powerful it can sadden adults. To me, it is about loss — lost parents, lost childhood, lost home. To you? Maybe something else, maybe Earth.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

Style on 09/02/2019

Print Headline: READ TO ME

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