Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1969
From the dust jacket, “On a rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results.
“How Sylvester is eventually reunited with his loving family and restored to his true self makes a story that is beautifully tender and filled with true magic. Illustrated with William Steig’s glowing pictures, this is a modern classic beloved by children everywhere.”
This book is very sweet and tender. It’s easy to fall in love with Sylvester, an innocent young donkey who accidentally wishes himself away from his home and family for a whole year. What agony the parents went through when he went missing and couldn’t be found! And what a sweet reunion the family had when Sylvester came back to them.
A lovely story to be read to younger kittens – the font is small which would make it difficult for early readers. But the illustrations are pretty and are easy to follow along while listening to the story. It’s hard to believe such a charming story would create controversy, but it did.
Back in what my aunt calls the ‘hippie’ days, that is the late 60’s, police were given the derogatory name of “pigs.” If you’ll notice in the illustrations I’ve included, when Sylvester’s parents go to the police department for help finding their boy, the police are actual pigs.
From Wikipedia, “In 1977, the Illinois Police Association urged librarians to remove the book, which portrays its characters as animals, and presents the police as pigs. The American Library Association reported similar complaints in 11 other states.”
I was unable to find any more instances where the book was challenged, but one never knows, after all the pebble was “magic” and there are a lot of readers who are offended by the use of magic in any book. I did run across a blogger’s comment that said the book was depressing, despite the happy ending. Oh, and, Papa Donkey smokes a pipe for those anti-tobacconists out there!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for sweet illustrations and story. We enjoyed this book!
Reviewer: Jack, Banned Books Librarian