In this last installment of Jane Yolen’s trio of books about ordinary objects with extraordinary uses, the humble stick is lauded as “a sword to tame monsters of dread” and “an oar for a rowboat in puddle or pond,” among other imaginative functions. As with most things, though, it fulfills its truest purpose when combined with others: what can be made with a stick, a box, and a string? “Music that goes with … everything!”
With an active imagination, the sky (er…the stick) is the limit! When an expressive young child with straight brown hair and pale skin—and their equally expressive dog—finds a stick in the yard, the child recognizes it as a “remarkable toy” that can be used for a variety of purposes, from battling nighttime closet monsters to pretending to be a seal balancing it on their nose to using it as a magic wand. The story is a love letter to both creativity and the childhood exuberance of imaginative play. Yolen’s verse is pithy and direct: “A stick is a sword / to tame monsters of dread. / Or bend it to use as a / large bow instead. // It can anchor a ship. // It can hold down a pulley. // A stick draws the line / between you and a bully.” The real stars of the show, however, are the illustrations, which capture the actions and joys of the child, although at times their excitement is overshadowed by the expressions of the black-and-white dog, who skirts the line between realism and caricature. Readers, both solo and in large groups, will love the rhymes, the big, bold illustrative choices, and the message that imagination is the best playmate of them all. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
Stick with this story—it’s a winner.