Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Common Sense Media says

Gently addresses children's fear of abandonment.




Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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, William 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.

Families can talk 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

Author:William Steig
Illustrator:William Steig
Genre:For Beginning Readers
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:January 1, 2000
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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 other families should know
Great messages
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 without clothing?
What other families should know
Great messages


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