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THE REMEMBERING STONE by Barbara Timberlake Russell


by Barbara Timberlake Russell & illustrated by Claire B. Cotts

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-36242-4
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Dreams become a leitmotif in this story of personal and cultural identity—with some muddled success. Ana and her mother live in the US, but Ana knows that her mother dreams of returning to Costa Rica, where she grew up, and dreams and aspirations—or the lack thereof—inform her conversations with others in the neighborhood. A volcanic stone from Costa Rica triggers a dream—the sleeping kind—in which Ana, in the form of a blackbird, flies to Costa Rica and sees her grandparents, triggering a dream—the aspirational kind—that she and her mother will one day go to Costa Rica together. The story never really comes together, as the exploration of goals and aspirations shifts awkwardly into the dream-exploration of Ana’s ancestral home; the reader is left with some appreciation of the need for goals and of the need for an understanding of cultural heritage, but here, the mixing of the two dilutes both messages. Ochre-tinged paintings feature flat perspectives and a heavy, almost naïve style, relying on light to convey emotion. Ultimately, the whole thing falls flat, despite good intentions. (Picture book. 5-9)