Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, written and illustrated by William Steig, is a classic children’s picture book; vocabulary rich, steeped in life lessons and a long time favorite among k-2nd graders. It’s a perfect read-aloud brain builder featured this week on our free online Little Kids’ Book Club. Scroll down for a list of engaging questions and fun facts to share with your child.
Sylvester the donkey takes a walk while on vacation and finds an extraordinary red pebble to add to his collection. When held, the magic pebble grants him any wish he desires. Startled by a lion in the grass Sylvester panics, and in haste wishes to become a rock. Not such a good idea. Time and seasons pass before Sylvester eventually turns back into a donkey and is reunited with his loving family, the most important wish of all and an important reminder to be careful what you wish for.
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Read and Explore
Ask your child:
Children’s books are not numbered, so we list questions and talking points in chronological order of the story. Help your child build critical thinking skills and vocabulary by asking a different question each time you read Sylvester And The Magic Pebble aloud. Remember to use the new vocabulary words learned in the book in everyday conversation with your kids.
-What is the difference between a pebble and a rock?(Pebbles are small, round and smooth.)
-What have you seen, or found, that you think is “remarkable”? (amazing or wonderful)
–“To his great surprise the rain stopped…it CEASED.” Can you think of other words that mean ceased? (ended, halted, finished)
–What would you wish for if you found a magic pebble?
–“…he was startled to see a mean, hungry lion looking right at him..” What does startled mean? (surprised)
-If you were Sylvester, scared by the lion, what would you have wished for?
–“At dawn they went about inquiring of all the neighbors.” What is another way to say the same thing? (In the morning they went to all the neighbors asking questions.)
-Which seasons passed before Sylvester’s parents went on a picnic? (Fall, Winter, Spring…in that order)
–Have you ever felt like Sylvester and wanted to say something but couldn’t get the words out?
-Mr. and Mrs. Duncan had an interesting picnic. What do oats, alfalfa and sassafras have in common? (They all grow in the ground.)
–“…the embraces, the kisses, the questions, the answers, the loving looks, and the fond exclamations!” Can you give me an “embrace,” (hug), and make a “fond exclamation” ? (an affectionate remark like I love you so much)
-What do you think our family would do with the magic pebble?
-William Steig won The Caldecott Medal in 1970 for Sylvester and The Magic Pebble.
-Donkeys are vegetarians.
-You can make a heating pad by microwaving a sock filled with pebbles.
-Rural postman, Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, built “The Ideal Palace” in France out of unusually shaped pebbles and rocks that he collected for 33 years. It opened to the public in 1907, the same year that William Steig was born.
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