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THE CLEVER STICK by John Lechner


by John Lechner & illustrated by John Lechner

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3950-1
Publisher: Candlewick

The titular stick is clever because “ever since he had fallen off the tree, he had been sharp.” He thinks things up (like the Pythagorean Theorem), but because he has no voice he cannot share his thoughts. He can draw, though, and he makes a pretty keen drawing in the sand, with a castle and boats in the lake and a dragon, and all the animals and insects approve. The rain washes it away, but the stick knows he can make another one. The narrative suffers on a couple of fronts. It never overcomes the challenge inherent in making a stick, however talented, a genuinely engaging character, and the illustrations are problematic. There’s no real sense of place, with the forest, the lake with a sandy shore and a meadow all modulating from one to the other with no communication of specific geography. Neither birds nor plants are distinguished, and the wild field rose looks exactly like a hothouse long-stemmed red beauty. Hard to see what might grab children’s attention or affection. (Picture book. 4-6)