The traditional Japanese folktale about a stonecutter who seeks ever greater prominence and power is retold in a modern, flippant version.
Stanley the frog works hard as a stonecutter. Though good at his job, he acknowledges the difficulties of his vocation. One day, on his way home from the quarry, Stanley observes a rabbit in a business suit “just sipping tea” and wishes he could be doing the same. Magically transformed with suit and tie, Stanley finds himself in the tea shop and declares, “Oh yeah! Now, this is more like it!” Soon a “commotion” around the king and his procession outside the tea shop prompts a new wish from Stanley: to be the king. Now the monarch, he proclaims “This rules!…I could get used to this kind of life!” As the sun beats down on Stanley, he grows tired of being the king and decides that being the sun would be better. Each new wish produces a limited amount of happiness or prestige with subsequent wishes to become a black cloud, a gusty wind, and finally the great stone. But Stanley’s satisfied only briefly, as the great stone must now contend with a new young stonecutter. Simple, bold, large cut-paper illustrations add to the absurdity, but overall this production with its implicit conclusion pales artistically when compared to Gerald McDermott’s stylized papercuts and Demi’s elegant paintings in their 1975 and 1995 versions, respectively.
A light treatment of a familiar tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/folktale. 5-7)