Perfect. That’s what the boy wants – a perfect stone. He searches for days, months, years…But will he find what he is searching for?
Title: The Perfect Stone
Author: Matt Leatherwood
Illustrator: Daryl Wills
ISBN: 9781521825877 Language: English
Themes: future, cause and effect, human impact
What’s it about?
This book is about a boy who loves stones of all types, colours, and sizes. The problem is he is looking for a particular stone – the perfect stone. He lives in a place where stones are everywhere and one day he discovers a huge pile of stones. His journey of searching for perfection lasts days, then months, then years…until there are no more stones in the pile.
The illustration on the cover is quite different to the illustrations on the pages but both are beautifully rendered. In this story the text is kept quite basic in language (although the odd challenging word appears) and allows for the story to tell itself in its own way to the reader.
This is an abstract/philosophical concept so do choose the audience wisely for understanding.
I was quite surprised at first to find the illustrations on the inside were so different from the cover. The illustrations (in the advance copy I received) in the book are line art (black and white) but I actually really liked that – for a couple of reasons. The simplicity of the illustrations in terms of colour goes hand-in-hand with the philosophical point of the book. Philosophical concepts are really difficult at times to get through to students – some will “get it” but other won’t. I imagine that if the boy had found the perfect stone it would have lit up the page in stunning colour which again I think makes the point that he doesn’t find perfection – because true perfection really doesn’t exist and that we should celebrate beauty. My other reason for liking the illustrations is that if you homeschool you can get your kids to colour in the pictures in their own way which I feel is a great way to engage with the book.
The story doesn’t play second-fiddle in this one and holds its own. The simple sentences keep you focused on the boy and his quest and as the boy grows into a man there is slightly more text on the page (perhaps a subtle way of showing the complexity of growing up – or maybe I’m over-thinking there). Even though the story itself doesn’t really have a firm conclusion it does have an ending – something that is difficult to accomplish. The story did make me sit back and ponder the man and what became of him but reflect on my own life to see if I was searching for the ‘perfect stone’.
“…have students consider if they themselves are searching for the ‘perfect stone’.”
I would use this one in the classroom but I would ensure that my students were mentally ready for it – thinking philosophically takes a bit of practice so I would definitely recommend doing some activities. How wonderfully would it be though to have students consider if they themselves are searching for the ‘perfect stone’ and reflect as to what it is and why? To have students look at the boy’s life and discuss what he missed out on because of the focus he had on this one thing – to think of the life the boy could have had.
Then there’s also the possibly of linking this with a properties of materials lessons with a geology focus. I once had a class look at the properties of different stones to record their hardness, texture, and other qualities – this could be a good launch book for that type of activity as well.
I’ve got a few ideas running in my head so I’ll start a Teaching Ideas page for this one and post it up once I’m ready.
In the meantime here’s the book trailer – it gives you an peek at what the illustrations look like.