Friday, February 21, 2014

A Single Pebble

A Single Pebble
by Bonnie Christensen
40 pages; ages 3-7
Roaring Brook Press, 2013

Themes: adventure, diversity

It's 850 AD, and Mei wants to travel with her father along the Silk Road. She wants to meet the monks and pirates and travelers that her father tells stories of. But it's her job to stay home and take care of the silkworms.

So Mei gives her father a jade pebble. "A gift for a child at the end of the road," she says. "But I don't travel to the end of the road," says her father. Still, he carries it with him, passing it on to other travelers who pass it on to others until it eventually reaches a child at the end of the road.

What I Like about this book: the way it's structured around the seasons; the different kinds of people traveling the road; the pirates; the box full of treasures; the maps and notes and multi-sensory gifts that accumulate over the course of the story. Also the turtle swimming in the river and the illustrations. This book is a journey you can take over and over again - and see something new on the road each time you read the story.

Beyond the book: Imagine sending an object on a journey. Choose something you would send to another child. Now make a map of the journey it could take. If you want an "old" map, cut open a brown paper bag to draw on, and illustrate it with dragons and other imaginary beasts.

Listen to music from the Silk Road. You can sample some music and rhythms at the Smithsonian Folkways webpage. Try beating out some of the rhythms on a drum, or by clapping your hands. Try humming along with some of they tunes - they sure do use a different musical scale, don't they?

What did the Silk Road smell like? Find some cinnamon and nutmeg in your kitchen spice cupboard and smell them. Use some spices in your oatmeal or hot cocoa.

Visit the Asian Art collection at a museum near you - and pay particular attention to works of art from 500 - 900s. That's the sort of art that may have been traded along the Silk Road.

Today's review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publisher


  1. I love your choice today -- another book I'd be drawn to. But, I really like your suggestions for using the book. Kids love journeys and this could be very imaginative fun time.

  2. This sounds like a very rich multilayered story!

  3. This book sounds lovely, Sue! I'm dying to read it from your description! Love your activities. encompassing multiple senses - music, spices etc. Thanks so much for sharing this one!

  4. This sounds lovely - I like your activity suggestion to make a map too!

  5. My library list is overflowing this week. I agree that's a wonderful activity!

  6. And I second all of the above! I like the idea of things being passed on in a neverending circle. A pebble or a smile or a book. That Smithsonian Folkways link is pretty cool. I liked that music. Great post today! Thanks!

  7. Love multicultural influenced stories. This is beautiful and you have great activities. Thanks.