A Stone for Sascha

Aaron Becker's newest wordless picture book opens on the title page with an illustration of a framed photograph: a girl and a dog sit together in an autumnal yard. In front of the frame is a little stack of dried flowers. The page turn shows the girl's mother, standing between a shovel and a hole in the ground, pulling the girl in for a hug as the girl's father gently places a wrapped bundle into the grave. Yep--it's a dead dog book. Or is it?
The family then leaves for a beach vacation, where the still-sad girl throws a rock into the ocean. The rock becomes a golden meteor racing through space; it connects with the Earth and, over a series of panels, readers see the gold of that meteor settle into the earth below the dinosaurs. Men dig up the golden rock and create a henge; time passes and the stone falls. Next, the stone makes its way across the ocean and is raised by a society with written language; the city devolves into war. This rise and fall of civilizations continues, the golden stone getting smaller as it travels across the globe and through the ages. Eventually, the stone ends up under the water, where a certain little girl finds it on her beach trip and decides it will be the perfect marker for a grave back home.
A Stone for Sascha's digital illustrations are as vibrant and winsome as one has come to expect of a work by Aaron Becker (the Journey triptych). The heartbreaking beginning is balanced by the grandness of the tale that follows, and Becker's expression of the cyclical nature of the human experience gives any reader plenty to think about. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor
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