My Favorite Picture Book of 2008
Kid Lit writer, Sonja Cole, asked the advisors to report on their favorite book for the 2008 year. The Blue Stone was the first book that came to mind for me, and rather than probe any deeper, I believe this book surfaced first for a reason. This 88 page picture book was released in March, and required a lot of talk about metaphors, symbolism, and schema with my classroom last year. This quiet book is simply amazing and can be used under the reading and writing umbrella. Here are a few things I did with the book:
A large, beautiful blue stone is discovered in a forest. It is cut in half, and one half stays in the forest while the other starts on a long and mystical journey through many places, many owners, and many transformations. It begins as a statue of an elephant, admired by museum goers, and then becomes a carved bird residing in an elderly woman's garden. It becomes a moon, a cat, a necklace, and more. Throughout it all, the stone longs to return home, and finally it crumbles to dust and flies with the wind back to rest with its other half in the forest.
Breathtaking illustrations and a haunting story by world-renowned illustrator Jimmy Liao take readers on a magical journey around the world. Adults will marvel at the life stories revealed in this book, and children will delight at seeing the different manifestations of the blue stone. This is a powerful story of different life paths and possibilities, a longing for home, and love.
Kirkus Reviews worried this book may have metaphors that students may not understand. I shared these concerns as my strong connection to the book was based on my life experience and times away from home...or questioning what "home" is for me.
I was surprised, however, to see how much my students took from this story with some talk. I plan on reading this book again to my current class near the end of the school year. It is a wonderful tool for talking about reading between the lines and understanding metaphors. I couldn't find the direct anchor chart I used for the book, but you can see part of it in this collage below. We discussed in length the idea of using a rock in this story. Why a rock? Why is it blue? This is not an accident or sheer chance. Students can begin to look for these elements independently, if we only take the time to talk about it.
I like to stress the concept of, "Who are you reading that is like what you are writing?" One of my students, quoted Jimmy Liao as her inspiration for The Alley of Light. To me, it shows that students can think deeply and apply it to their world as well. This is a one page, poetry like intro. from a former student Kayla.
If you like this book, you will probably enjoy his other book, The Sound of Color.