The Mysterious Stones

Crocodile. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623718695.
PreS-Gr 2–This fable-like tale of a pinkish-skinned boy hoping for his father’s return suffers from a meandering story line, minimal plot, and a heavy-handed moral. Kiki misses his father, who sailed away to sea and has not returned. One day he discovers a mysterious white-haired woman on the beach gathering stones. She disappears when he arrives. Kiki’s abuela tells him that she has seen the woman, and indicates that the stones helped fulfill a wish when she was a child. Kiki sees the woman a few more times, culminating in her leaving him a shell. In a dream, a voice from the shell tells Kiki not to give up hope. The story feels more like a series of interconnected vignettes than a complete whole. A trip to the market, incidental to the plot, includes an atmospheric list of foods and fragrances. A meal of fresh fish also seems included for ambience. The series of interactions with the white-haired lady are intriguing, but the ending is inconclusive and not satisfying. The full-bleed, apparently mixed media illustrations are uneven. The naive style characters have round faces, dot eyes, and pink circles on their cheeks. The backgrounds are brightly colored, with the collage style providing depth, but characters feel flat.
VERDICT Unfortunately, the whole thing never quite comes together. An additional purchase at best.

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