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*Milo and the Magical Stones* by Marcus Pfister
Also by Marcus Pfister:

The Little Moon Raven

Rainbow Fish and the Whale (Tuff Books)

Questions, Questions

Rainbow Fish Opposites/El Pez Arco Iris Opuestos [bilingual]

Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea

Copycat Charlie (Touch and Feel)

Rainbow Fish Hide & Seek Cloth Book
Milo and the Magical Stones
by Marcus Pfister
Grades K-2 32 pages NorthSouth January 2010 Hardcover    

Milo is a cliff mouse who lives happily on a remote and idyllic island with other cliff mice. After a winter storm, Milo ventures out of his cave one day to forage for food and instead finds a shiny, glowing rock that gives off light and warmth. Milo takes the stone back to his cave, and soon all the mice want a glowing rock of their own.

Here the book splits, offering the reader one of two reading choices: the happy ending or the sad ending. The pages are divided into panels that turn independently and offer two alternatives for how the story can progress. In the happy ending, the mice are careful not to take too many glowing rocks and to replace the rocks with others of the same size and shape as offerings of gratitude to the island. Thus, they live happily ever after on their beloved island.

In the sad ending, the mice become consumed with greed and take more and more of the glowing rocks well beyond their need, until their island home becomes hollowed out and collapses entirely, taking the mice with it. The book is a parable on ecological conservation and environmental destruction, told in simple terms that children can understand. To underscore the environmental message, the inside back cover offers conservation tips for the young, such as conserving paper and water and recycling toys.

This is a worthy message and an interesting and unique take on storytelling. The artwork is strikingly beautiful, and writer/illustrator Marcus Pfister once again proves that he excels at creating gorgeously lit, shimmery images that are strongly reminiscent of his famous children’s book Rainbow Fish.

Parents may perhaps find the tone of the book a bit preachy or heavy-handed, but children will enjoy selecting which path the story should take and watching the consequences of each set of actions unfold. Milo and the Magical Stones is a good choice for classrooms and school libraries.

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  Usha Reynolds/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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