A Stone for Sascha

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
A Stone for Sascha Book Poster Image
Beautiful art in wordless tale of loss and passage of time.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the passage of historical time, the early evolution of planet from sea life to dinosaurs to mammals and humans. Many civilizations and cultures pictured, on different continents. Concept that historical change might happen because of celestial events, ravages of time, wars, looting and plundering, merchant activity, artistic activity, religious and worship activity, architectural work, land journeys, sea journeys, storms, etc.

Positive Messages

Burial rituals are comforting and meaningful. Families can help kids deal with loss. The past continues to be present. Our lives gain meaning when we think of them in the larger context of time. We're all a part of the cosmos.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Loving African American family consists of mom, dad, girl, and brother. Parents physically comfort kids when they're mourning dog. Close family takes a beach/camping trip. Humans shown building civilizations and engaged in spiritual worship ceremonies. Artist shown crafting stone into beautiful sculpture.

Violence & Scariness

Violent wars and clashes pictured. Fighting with swords and arrows, but in long shot, so we don't see blood or bodies.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Stone for Sascha is a wordless book by Aaron Becker, who won a Caldecott Honor for Journey, the first book in the wordless Journey trilogy. Because this book opens with the burial of a family dog, it deals with death and loss. It then careens back in time, picturing the dramatic arrival of a meteorite when the Earth was primordial sea soup, and follows the meteorite on its winding journey through evolutionary and human history to the present day. All of which lends a sense of connection and perspective to the loss, one that will be developmentally most meaningful to kids who are beginning to see themselves in relationship to the larger world. The family and girl protagonist are African American, and in the historical scenes with the meteorite, people of different races and cultures are pictured, including what appears to be Africans, Middle Easterners, Asians, and Europeans.

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What's the story?

In A STONE FOR SASCHA, an African American family buries their dog, and the girl looks out to sea and pitches a stone into the water. The story then cuts back through history to prehistoric times when a fiery meteorite blazed through the sky and slammed to earth. The meteorite's later discovered by an early tribe of humans who wheel it away for worship, and after that is carted off by a band of shepherds. It’s carved into an obelisk, stolen by a warring culture, incorporated into a Buddha-like statue and the arch of a bridge, and when time ravages those, it's again discovered and carved into a smaller piece of art. That art's stolen by pirates, sinks in a storm, and is lost -- until years later a small piece of it washes up on the beach, and the girl places the stone on her dog's grave.

Is it any good?

This beautifully illustrated wordless story takes the long view about death and our place in the glacial passage of time and history. A Stone for Sascha might be best for the older end of the picture book crowd since it travels from prehistoric times through ancient cultures to the present, requiring some knowledge of history. And because it’s wordless, it calls on readers to interpret visual clues to the civilizations pictured. Though it's framed by a contemporary story about a girl mourning her dog, it's more a compelling meditation about time than it is about loss. Does the girl understand where she and her dog stand in the cosmos, and how they're connected to life that's passed before? When she presses the stone to her cheek, she appears to.

Aaron Becker's a stunning illustrator who threads the stories together in subtle ways. At the start, the girl and her father both wear necklaces with golden beads, as does one of the tribesmen in the first group of humans. When the meteorite first crashes to Earth, it embeds itself in the ocean floor, and, in a series of panels, works its way up and out as ocean becomes land, and dinosaurs give way to early mammals. Though some of the stone's passages are spurred by war and strife, and people clash with swords and arrows, there's a spiritual comfort to the slow passage of time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meteorite in A Stone for Sascha. Are you able to follow its journey through time and different cultures? What cultures and historical periods can you trace?

  • In what various ways does the stone pass from one culture to another? Which are dramatic or violent changes? Which are caused by the passage of time?

  • How do you think the girl feels when she finds the stone? Why does she set it on her dog's grave? What do you think the author means to say by linking all these historical events with the present-day girl and dog?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love wordless books and stories about grief

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