cover image Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter

Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter

Dave Horowitz. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-54846-8

In this careful-what-you-ask-for story based on a Chinese folktale, “The Stone- cutter,” a frog named Stanley yearns to ditch the drudgery of his stonecutting job. When his idle wish to be a “businessman” is magically fulfilled, he realizes that he may be thinking too small. With subsequent wishes, he becomes a king, the sun, a big black rain cloud, and the wind, discovering that in each role, there’s always something bigger and more powerful than he is; even when he is the menacing cloud, emanating spiky, scary yellow thunderbolts, the wind can still blow him around. Finally, Stanley picks the most powerful thing he can think of: a stone. Horowitz’s (Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again) cut-paper art has a broad, sculptural quality, and while his characterizations aren’t subtle (Stanley is an obloid with long legs and a pair of ping-pong ball eyes perched on top), the pictures have a visual immediacy and narrative velocity. The pages breeze by until Stanley’s final transformation, which conveys a zenlike message about finding peace in one’s lot in life (in an author’s note, Horowitz also provides a personal anecdote). Ages 4–8. [em](July) [/em]