cover image A Stone Sat Still

A Stone Sat Still

Brendan Wenzel. Chronicle, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7318-4

As in They All Saw a Cat, Wenzel’s poem focuses on how point of view affects experience. This time, his subject is a humble stone: “A stone sat still/ with the water, grass, and dirt,/ and it was as it was/ where it was in the world.” In each spread or vignette, a different wild creature encounters the round rock. A wide-eyed chipmunk perches on it as the sun casts it in shadow (“and the stone was dark”); at night, an owl peers at it lit by the moon (“and the stone was bright”). After a gull breaks a clam on its surface (“and the stone was loud”), a snake sunbathes there (“and the stone was quiet”). Animals witness it turning different seasonal hues and encounter it variably as smooth and rough, large and small, “a blink” and “an age.” Alert readers will notice that the water beneath the stone rises as the pages turn—eventually, great waves overtake it in spreads that reveal a vast expanse of silvery water. But the stone isn’t gone: under the waves, it “sits still in the world,” a small snail upon it. “Have you ever seen such a place?” Wenzel asks. Look closely, his words say: even the most seemingly insignificant bits of Earth offer splendor. The wonderful mixed-media creatures and their encounters entertain, while bigger ideas suggest all kinds of conversations about perception and perspective, wildlife and habitat, local and global change, and eternity and evanescence. Ages 3–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)