Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WORDS OF STONE by Kevin Henkes

WORDS OF STONE

By Kevin Henkes

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-11356-7
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

 Gentle, imaginative Blaze has literally buried, beneath stones he has set in a circle, the several imaginary friends who have failed to help him overcome fears dating back years, to his mother's death. He can't swim and is apprehensive of dogs; he's not ready to confide in his nice dad or to paint on the canvas Dad has provided. And he's never managed to get back on the Ferris wheel he rode with his mother just before she died. Meanwhile, Joselle ironically calls her self-centered mom ``The Beautiful Vicki.'' Off with yet another man, Vicki has dumped Joselle with her grandmother. A brash Gilly Hopkins of a child, Joselle nonetheless reaches out to her new neighbor, and the two form a tentative friendship that is helping both until Blaze catches Joselle in a lie--a self-protective habit his example has been inspiring her to overcome--and bitterly rejects her. Still, each has helped move the other toward healthy self-determination; and, in a remarkable conclusion that gathers the story's images and themes together in a few graceful paragraphs, their mutual betrayal is succeeded by a believable reconciliation. With its beautiful crafting and rich insight into a friendship between two troubled children, this tender, understated story recalls The Goats (1987). Like Brock Cole, Henkes is a master of the picture book, where he has learned marvels of economy; every sentence here is telling, but never obtrusively so. His characters live, lingering in the memory. An outstanding book, one of the year's best. (Fiction. 10+)