Storytelling Magic

The Trial of the Stone: A Folktale

By Sarah Rosenfeld

A review of The Trial Of The Stone: A Folktale by Richardo-keens Douglas

Published on October 1, 2000

The Trial Of The Stone: A Folktale
Richardo-keens Douglas

Annick Press
$19.95
hardcover
32pp
1-55037-647-0

The Trial of the Stone is storytelling magic, a book that will keep its appeal long past the childhood years.

From the Caribbean island of Grenada and now living in Toronto, Richardo Keens-Douglas has always shown the influence of his homeland’s oral tradition in his songlike style. The Trial of the Stone, based on a folk tale that appears around the world, is one such example. It helps give children access to a view outside of so-called classic storytelling.

The book retells the story of a young boy named Matt, who sets off through the jungle to visit his grandfather in a faraway village. After a long day of travel, he hides what few pennies he has under a large rock for safe-keeping and goes to sleep. Unluckily, the next day his breakfast money is gone, stolen in the night. After raising a ruckus, the people from the nearby village come running and attempt to solve the problem by putting the stone on trial. The crowd giggles as the village chief questions the silent rock , and a man in a red shirt lurks in the shadows.

Stéphane Jorisch is an award-winning artist and designer living in Montreal. His vividly painted scenes are a big part of the book’s quiet charm. As the story progresses, the watercolour, gouache, and pen-and-ink illustrations flow from page to page. The faces of the characters show true emotion and the vibrant colours jump out at the reader.

Hopefully children just starting to read will not struggle with the smallish type; the book is probably best read aloud by a parent while the child enjoys the pictures.

Publishers, keep these kinds of books coming! mRb

Sarah Rosenfeld is a writer and associate editor for a travel and leisure magazine for Canadian physicians.

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