A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road

Bonnie Christensen. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-715-9
In a sweet-natured story set over two years during the ninth century, Christensen (I, Galileo) follows a small jade pebble along the length of the Silk Road, from China to Italy. The pebble is initially given to a silk merchant by his daughter, Mei, who isn’t allowed to accompany her father. “At least my pebble can go,” Mei says. “A gift for a child at the end of the road.” Mei’s father isn’t traveling the road’s entire length, so he passes the pebble to a Buddhist monk, who gives it to a sandalwood trader heading farther west, and so on, with additional small treasures (a flute, a cinnamon stick) accumulating along with the pebble. Although Mei (understandably) never finds out if her pebble has reached its destination, readers know the truth, and are also privy to a neat reciprocal journey involving a piece of blue glass. Although the characterizations are on the light side, Christen-sen’s atmospheric paintings and prose provide lively snapshots of life on the Silk Road; endnotes include additional historical information. Ages 3–7. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/15/2013
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