Monday, November 12, 2012

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Publication Year: 1969
Author: William Steig
Genre: Fiction
Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 2
Theme: Magic
Skills Taught: Using a story map

Summary: The story is about Sylvester Duncan who lives in the town Oatsdale and enjoys collecting pebbles.  One day, he finds a strange red shiny pebble and tests it to see if it is a magic pebble.  He wishes it to rain, and then it begins raining.  Sylvester than wishes it to stop raining, and the rain stops.  After making these wishes, he notices a lion coming at him.  He panics and wishes he were a rock, and he turns into a rock.  Later that day, his parents begin to worry because he has not come home.  The town begins searching for him, but months go by and no one can find Sylvester.  Eventually, his parents have a picnic on Strawberry Hill, where Sylvester is sitting there as a rock.  While his parents are sitting on him, he tries to yell, but they can't hear him.  They notice the magic pebble and wish that their son would return.  Sylvester the rock, turns into his old self as he and his parents rejoice.

About the Author: William Steig was born in New York City during 1907.  Growing up with family that was involved in art, it was only a matter of time before William became an artist himself.  In 1968, he published his first children's book, Roland and the Minstrel Pig.  All of his books reflect the ideas of the importance of family and friends, and how everyone should support and look after one another.  He wrote over thirty books, one of his more popular books was Shrek!, which was later turned into a movie many children love.  (

For the Classroom

Pre-Reading Activity: I would hand out an anticipation guide about the book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.  When students have finished answering the questions, we would review the sheet as a whole class by having students raise their hand if they agree or disagree with each statement.

Post-Reading Activity: After we have finished reading the book, we would as a class work on a story map.  Since this would be their first time using this type of graphic organizer, it would be a time to model how to use it.  When finished, I would review the basics of a story map and why we use it, to better prepare the students for the future when they have to work on it independently.

Reflection: Reading this Caldecott Medal winning book, I realized why it received the award.  The illustrations are different, yet great.  They are accompanied with a great story of the importance of family and how a community pulls together to help those in need.  Aside for the lessons it teaches students, the number of activities that could be done with this book are endless, such as sequencing of events, cause and effect, mapping, and using context clues.  Reading this story, I didn't think it would have a happy ending, but fortunately, it does.  This is a book children will surely love and become a story they want to hear over and over again.

Buy this book now at

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