cover image The Trial of the Stone: A Folk Tale

The Trial of the Stone: A Folk Tale

Richardo Keens-Douglas. Annick Press, $19.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55037-647-0

In the tradition of parables like Demi's recent The Donkey and the Rock, this retelling demonstrates that wisdom often lies beneath seeming folly. Jorisch's (The Magic Mustache) light, airy paintings set the tale in an African rainforest, where young Matt decides to rest for the night before going on to his grandfather's village. Lush surroundings show hippos wallowing in a pond next to a cluster of straw huts. Matt hides his money under a rock for safekeeping, but when he awakens the next day, the coins have disappeared. The chief from the nearby town, after hearing Matt's story, demands that the stone be arrested and tried for robbery. ""No one moved, thinking they must have heard wrong,"" writes Keens-Douglas (The Miss Meow Pageant) in a reportorial style. Jorisch records the action in limpid, exuberantly hued watercolors. But there is a method to the wily chief's seeming madness: as the trial gets underway and the stone refuses to answer questions (e.g., ""What were you doing on the side of the road?""), the patent silliness of the proceedings tricks the real thief into revealing himself. This offbeat law-and-order tale should prove an effective tickler of funny bones, while it also appeases the target age group's fiercely held sense of justice. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)