Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

by William Steig

Paperback, 1987



Call number




Aladdin (1987), Edition: Reissue, 32 pages


In a moment of fright, Sylvester the donkey asks his magic pebble to turn him into a rock but then can not hold the pebble to wish himself back to normal again.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
A little scary for awhile, but heartwarming and a reminder of what's important in life - being together.
LibraryThing member AStall
Sylvester collects pebbles and has in his possession a magical pebble. In a moment of panic, he turned himself into a rock to hide from a lion. His family searched high and low but couldn’t find Sylvester until they had a picnic on his back and put the pebble on Sylvester. He wished to be a
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donkey again and all was well.

I love the conflict and irony, that Sylvester was so close, yet so far away. The illustrations are beautiful. I think that the theme is great to teach kids: Be careful what you wish for. And what you wish for may be right in front of your eyes.

In a classroom, we could decorate our own magic pebbles. We could also write a paper about what kind of things we would wish for if we had magic pebbles.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
I adore Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. This is a great book for kids with wonderful illustrations, a good plot, good voice, and good moral. My favorite part is the reason it's most often banned: the use of pigs as police!
LibraryThing member dchaves
The Ring of Gyges by Plato. Careful what you wish for. The anguish of the parents searching for their lost child. Of course the first thing that Sylvester does with his magic is wart removal. He also becomes "stone dumb", haven't we all felt that way before. In the end, "put the magic pebble in an
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iron safe".
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LibraryThing member champlin
Picture Book. The theme of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is to be careful about what you wish for. The illustrations greatly enhanced this theme. Sylvester finds a stone and it happens to be magic. When he encounters a lion in the woods he wishes he were a rock so he doesn’t get eaten. For the
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rest of the book Sylvester is a rock and he misses a whole year of his life as a donkey. The reader sees the reactions of his parents and how they are heartbroken. I really enjoyed this book!
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LibraryThing member cjfox73
The moral is that Sylvester learns to be happy with what he has. Children will appreciate the simple message and the sweet illustrations.
LibraryThing member hartn
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig. Simon & Schuster, 1969.

Probably suitable for older, more patient audiences, late preschool or classroom age. A fantasy, fairy-tale and humorous story, with some subtle morals snuck in at the end. Sylvester has rocks on his mind and he is not very
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careful with what he wishes for. There is also a lovely passage where the parents provide the words to Sylvester that help him achieve his goals. The story is quite long and the illustrations do not offer much, but the characters are very expressive of emotions, and there are lovely surprises that would delight anyone.
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LibraryThing member victoriahaumesser
Sylvester is a donkey, that collects pebbles. He collects a magic pebble and learns all his wishes can come true. Sylvester has the pebble turn him into a rock when a lion is after him. Now not able to change back is stuck for a while as the rock. His parents come for a picnic on his rock and find
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the pebble. They placed it on the rock and Sylvester wishes he was a donkey again and it was so.
This had very nice illustrations. They were very colorful. The plot of the story being sometimes you are better off without magic. The setting was in the woods.The charater made it seem like this story could happen, but i know it can not.
I liked this book it made for interesting reading. I liked the way it progressed the storyline. The curiosity was up to read more when I started reading the book. I think this is a good book for the younger grades to enjoy.
In the classroom a teacher could have the children to write what they would wish for if they had the pebble. The children could do a reflection on the story.The child could tell you how they would end the story if they could change the ending.
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LibraryThing member AngelaPrice
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a Modern Fantasy tale starring Sylvester, an adorable donkey, who finds a magic red pebble that grants the wishes of anyone lucky enough to hold it. When Sylvester encounters a hungry lion and wishes that he could be a rock so the lion wouldn’t eat him, he is
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transformed into a rock and is unable to wish himself back into a donkey. In the end, Sylvester’s distraught parents inadvertently save the day, and Sylvester is returned to his former state.

I have fond memories of my grandfather reading this book to me when I was a little girl. The possibility of finding a magic pebble was fascinating to me and prompted many daydreams of what I’d do if such a thing were ever to happen to me.

I would use this book as a creative writing tool. After reading the story, I would pass out magic pebbles to all the students and have them write a story about what they would wish for if they possessed a magic stone. This book could also be used as an illustration of how wishing for something you think you want and having it come true can turn out to be an awful thing to endure.
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LibraryThing member CLCrothers
This story is about a young donkey named Sylvester who likes to collect pebbles. Sylvester finds a pretty unusual pebble that he decides would be a nice addition to his collection. When he finds this pebble it is raining, and he wishes for the rain to stop. When the rain stops, Sylvester realizes
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that the pebble is magic. This turns into a problem for Sylvester when he makes the wrong wish!

I can relate to this story because I have often wished for something magical to happen to make my day better. This story has a good lesson in it, one that definitely applies to life. You'll just have to read the book to find out what it is!

In the classroom I would bring in and have the students bring in pebbles or stones that they have found around their homes and show them to the rest of the class. Another idea would be to allow the children to paint and decorate their own pebbles or stones.
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LibraryThing member psjones
Wonderful book. The language and vocabulary is highly intelligent. The message was that it is better to be content with what you have. Family is also very important in the story.
LibraryThing member ericarhenry
I love this book. I had completely forgotten about this book and I came across it at the library and was so happy to see it again. This was one of my absolute favorites as a child and I really enjoyed reading it again. It's a great story about Sylvester, a young donkey, who wanders off and finds a
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magic pebble. He realizes that he can wish for anything and the pebble grants his wish. He comes across a lion, panics, and accidentally changes himself into a rock and can't get back to his donkey self. His parents and the townspeople are devastated and look everywhere for him. Just when they think he is gone, they bring a picnic to him and unknowingly set the magic pebble on top of him. Sylvester wishes he were himself again and all of a sudden, he is. It's a great story with fantastic illustrations that I will always enjoy.
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LibraryThing member aflanig1
A great story that shows you should be careful what you wish for and to be thankful/happy with what you have in life.
LibraryThing member TheMightyQuinn
Sylvester is a young donkey who likes collecting pebbles, one day he finds a magic pebble that grants his wishes, but unfortunately he runs into a lion and wishes he was a rock and traps himself as a rock. This is said to be Steig's version of Pinocchio because of Sylvester's longing to be a donkey
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again and is occasionally criticized for depicting police officers as pigs. Typical Steig illustration in pen and color. Good story about being careful what you wish for. All reader appropriate and acceptable in any picture book collection.
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LibraryThing member lauraklandoll
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a story about a young donkey, named Sylvester, who lives in Oatsdale with his loving parents. Sylvester likes collecting pebbles of unusual shape and color. He finds a magical red pebble, which grants wishes. Sylvester's extreme excitment over being able to have
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his wishes granted, causes him to make an unwise wish, during a time of panick. He turns himself into a rock. Sylvester's parents rescue him, and he learns he has nothing more to wish for, than he already has.

This story remined me of all the times, as a child, I wanted to be able to make a wish and get the special toy of my dreams, or as an adult, wipe away all my problems. Just like Sylvester, I did learn, I really have nothing more to wish for, than I already have.

I would take the opportunity to incorperate a talk on rock collecting, and all the wonderful specimens they could encounter, maybe even finding a magic pebble. We could look at more books on rock collecting. Another extension, looking for books about wishes. Old books, such as "Aladdin's Lamp" as well as recent books.
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LibraryThing member linseymomof2
This book is about a donkey named Sylvester who finds a pebble that can grant his wishes. When a lion approaches him, he asks the pebble to turn him into a rock. But, when the lion goes away, he cannot wish himself back. Then his parents become concerned about him and months go by without any sign
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of Sylvester. Sylvester's parents then go to a picnic to try and cheer each other up. They come to the rock that he has turned into and Sylvester was able to turn back into himself again.
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LibraryThing member Charitas
This book is about a donkey boy who one day finds a beautiful red magic pebble. On his way home he runs into a lion so he wishes himself to be a rock. His family and everyone is worried because he doesn't come home for months but one day when his parents are out on a picnic his dad finds the magic
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pebble and puts it on the big rock (the donkey) and in the end he wished he were himself again and he was.

This is a very good story with great pictures. It has you excited for him in the begininning because he found a magic rock, then you are worried when he finds the lion, then you are sad when he can't go home and his family is worried for him and then in the end it's a happy ending.

For one classroom activity the students could make observations of different rocks. Another, they could write their own stoy using the main keywords from the story such as "wolf," "lion," "Slyvester," and so on.
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LibraryThing member TorrieM
This is about a donkey named Sylvester who collected pebbles. One day he realized he had found a magic pebble. He turned himself into a pebble and could not change himself back. One day his parents sat down at the rock not knowing it was him. They all wished he was there and he turned back into
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himself again. I would use this book for 2nd-5th grade because it is a longer book. It teaches the lesson to be careful what you wish for.
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LibraryThing member ktibbs
Sylvester is a curious donkey who collects pebbles, while out on a walk one day, he finds a magic pebble which he discovers makes his wishes come true. When he sees a lion coming, he panics a wishes to be a rock. Sylvester becomes a rock but then cannot move or speak and is not touching the magic
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pebble to be turned back. He spends several months this way until his parents go on picnic and use his rock for a table and place the magic pebble on the rock as well. Sylvester is so upset his parents are so close but do not know he is there, he wishes he were himself again and his wish is granted.
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LibraryThing member kyaffee
This story teaches the reader to be careful what you wish for. Sylvester collects pebbles and one day finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. After making plenty of wishes he ends up turning himself into a rock. He realizes that he has everything he could wish for.
LibraryThing member KristinWhite
This book is great for children kindergarten to second grade. It teaches children that sometimes you have everything you would wish for already. This book would be great for talking about fictional vs nonfiction, because not only are there talking animals, but there are also magic pebbles.
LibraryThing member pvhslibrarian
With your main character a donkey, you have to be open for just about anything to happen in the story. Given the magical ability to have wishes granted when holding a special stone, Sylvester when confronted by a lion, wishes to be a rock so he isn't so appetizing. The crux of the story is the fact
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he is separated from his family without their knowing where he is. A search ensues but to no avail. The reader shares in the parents' pain as well as rooting for Sylvester's eventual reunion with his family. This is a timeless classic that awaits a whole new generation of readers.
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LibraryThing member rhenley06
This is a good example of fantasy because the main characters are a donkey family. Also, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that he can command to follow whatever he says. This turns out to be negative when he turns into a rock and his parents cannot find him for a very long time.
LibraryThing member RoseMarion
A sweet donkey named Sylvester Duncan has a very happy life with his mother and father. One day he finds a beautiful red pebble and soon discerns that it is magical. As long as Sylvester holds the pebble, he can wish for anything he wants in the whole entire world. How exciting! Sylvester can’t
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wait to get home and tell his parents about this amazing find.

Unfortunately, on his way home Sylvester faces danger and wishes to become a rock. Now he can’t pick up the pebble and wish to become himself again. Thus, Sylvester is a permanent rock for the foreseeable future which sends him into a depression. In the meantime, his loving parents worry and wonder about what happened to their beloved Sylvester. They look for him high and low and inquire of all of their neighbors about Sylvester. Nobody has seen him and when the searchers visit Strawberry Hill and stumble upon the rock that is now Sylvester neither Sylvester nor they can communicate with one another. What will Sylvester do to solve his problem? Is he stuck as a rock forever or can he somehow become himself again?

Told in many words which may be unusual for a children’s picture book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble which is written and illustrated by William Steig, is extremely interesting and heartfelt. It accurately conveys the deep love that exists between children and their parents and the extreme excitement of finding a way to have all of one's wishes granted. Furthermore, the art work within the book is spot on in terms of conveying the character’s emotions and reactions. In fact, this classic picture book won the Caldecott Medal in 1970. I highly recommend this picture book to anyone who loves children’s literature and even those who normally don’t read children’s books. It will make you feel good!
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LibraryThing member elizabethholloway
This 1969 picture book tells the story of Sylvester, a donkey, who finds a magic pebble that will fulfill his every wish. Unfortunately, one day, Sylvester sees a lion and becomes so frightened that he wishes he were a rock--at which point he turns into a rock and cannot wish himself back into a
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donkey. The story then describes Sylvester's forlorn parents as they try desperately to find him and then find accept his absence and mourn his loss. Eventually, (spoiler alert) Sylvester turns back to a donkey and has a tearful reunion with his parents.

What's most engaging about this book is the illustrations. The black outlines make them vivid and they are reminiscent of Matisse paintings in their depiction of three dimensions. The clothes the donkeys were are funny and cute (what's better than a donkey in a housecoat?). Also the idea of a magic pebble that could grant wishes is compelling--an ordinary object with extraordinary power.

However, the book is very sad. Sylvester is trapped and helpless and the description of the parents' grief takes up 8 pages. Ultimately, the ending is happy, but there are many sad pages. This book is best for readers that like that kind of catharsis. It's written for a kindergarten to 3rd grade level. Another book written during this decade is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

11 inches


0671662694 / 9780671662691
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