Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig, is definitely in my basket of favorites in my classroom. William Steig’s literary language is genius. He is witty, and fabulously descriptive. I feel like I truly understand his sense of humor just by reading his books. The charm of his writing is mature beyond the years of many of the young readers that read his books. However, there is something engaging and empowering for young children to hear the way William Steig’s voice comes through in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
The short version is that Sylvester is a donkey that finds a pebble that brings him magic. While he is walking home with this magic pebble, he gets frightened by a lion. Panicked, he wishes that he is a rock so that the lion won’t eat him. The rest of the tale is the journey of how Sylvester returns back to himself and how his parents found their child.
A few years ago my class had fun with this book! We studied the story and decided to do an innovation of it. My students decided to change a few aspects of the book.
We decided to change the pebble into a magic piece of gold.
We decided to change the lion into a scary monkey that maybe escaped from a zoo.
We decided to change the rock that sylvester became into a picnic table (after all, it did make sense in terms of how the story ended)
We wrote our own versions of Sylvester with these changes in mind. I know that William Steig would have been proud!! Innovating a story with your child is an exhilarating and inspiring experience! This story is unique and special, so it is a great one to try it out with.