cover image Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone

Beth Ferry, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-544-03256-9

Newcomer Ferry’s simple rhymes and Lichtenheld’s (Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site) pared-down art make fine partners in this testament to friendship. At the outset, reedy Stick stands moodily by the sea, while round Stone gazes at the moon (“Stick. Stone./ Lonely. Alone”). They meet at the playground, where a pinecone makes fun of Stone. Stick defends Stone (“ ‘Vanish!’ says Stick./ His word does the trick”), and a friendship is born. Ferry adds zip to the best-friends-forever theme with plenty of sly puns (“Stone whispers, ‘Gee,/ you stuck up for me!’ ”), and Lichtenheld conveys significant expressiveness through the characters’ dot eyes and small smiles. More subtly, he darkens objects when the story takes a discouraging turn and pours on the sunlight when things cheer up. Friends can help each other by capitalizing on their differences, he suggests, as when Stone rolls a path through tall grass for Stick as they travel. The use of instantly recognizable objects as characters gives the story universal appeal, and Ferry makes its moral unmissable. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (Apr.)