cover image The Clever Stick

The Clever Stick

JOHN LECHNER, . . Candlewick, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3950-1

The unlikely hero—a sharp, wooden stick—of Lechner's (Sticky Burr ) fable about expressing oneself has an extraordinary mind (a watercolor spot shows a thought balloon above the stick that reads “a2+b2=c2”). Because he can't speak, though, he can't share his knowledge and feelings. “When he came across a frog writing a poem, he wanted to share a simile about the sun being like a dragon. But he could not.” Then the stick realizes that his sharp end leaves a line in the sand. He can draw, and, for the first time, the world recognizes his existence: “As he scribbled, the plants and animals gathered around and watched in rapt attention.” The stick's sand drawing is a tapestry of fantasy elements: a castle, a dragon, woodland creatures on sailing ships. When the rain soon washes it away, “the stick didn't care.... He knew at last he had found his voice.” It's a triumphant moment. Our best gifts, Lechner seems to say, may not lie where we expect, but it is only in their pursuit that we find ourselves. Ages 5–8. (July)