Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble Book Poster Image
Gently addresses children's fear of abandonment.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Steig's drawings capture the animals' emotions perfectly, as Sylvester learns that a simple wish can sometimes backfire, but love can overcome all.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3 and 6-year-old Written bydmoore April 14, 2010

Be thankful!

I think this is a good book. I helps to show children that they should be thankful for what they have.
But, why is Sylvester the only donkey in his family witho... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDominicboo1 April 22, 2011

A Story Children Wish For!

The only thing that someone might be nervous about is when Sylvester wishes himself into being a rock, to escape a hungry lion.

What's the story?

Sylvester must have had rocks in his head when he panics at the advance of a lion, and to escape turns himself into--a rock! Unrecognizable to Mom, Dad, and everyone, is he doomed to be a rock forever? Is it luck, or fate, that brings them to picnic on that one particular rock, where everyone obtains what he or she has been wishing for?


Is it any good?

Once again, Steig addresses one of childhood's biggest latent fears, abandonment, but his gentle, unerring handling of this issue makes for an endearing story full of pathos and strength. Steig's belief in the magic (mysteries) of life is central to this story, both in creating the anxious situation and relieving it. Steig won the Caldecott Medal for children's-book illustration for this book, and while it's a good choice to recognize within Steig's body of work, with its attention to detail and bright colors, it is no more stunning than many other children's books. It is Steig's deserving style and sensitive attention to faces in all his work that was probably given tribute then.

As a package, this book offers the same classic satisfaction of most of Steig's works. So much feeling and nuance stuffed into the simple story and pictures of this little book will make children appreciate the power of books and convince their parents that books should be collected and read over and over.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the notion of being careful what you wish for. How does Sylvester's wish make things go all wrong? How does he solve his problem, and what does he learn from it?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate