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The Trial of the Stone is a humorous folk tale in which a stone is accused of a crime and the villagers at the trial must learn to take the judicial system seriously.
A young boy named Matt is off to visit his grandfather in a faraway village. He has been on the road all day, and when dusk falls, Matt finds a place to sleep near a big rock. He hides the few pennies he has for the next day's breakfast safely under a stone. A scoundrel in a red shirt watches Matt settle in and sees him hide his money. When the boy is fast asleep, the man tiptoes over, steals the few pennies and runs away.
In the morning, the boy wakes to find his breakfast money gone. He looks everywhere - but no pennies. In his distress, he raises such a ruckus that the people from a nearby village come running. The constable takes charge and inquires what is wrong. Matt tells his sad story. The village chief then orders the constable to carry the stone to the village to stand trial for theft. The villagers trail along to see what will happen
In the trial, the stone is accused of stealing Matt's money. The rock remains silent, but the crowd giggles. They are warned to keep quiet, as this is a serious matter. The rock refuses to answer any further questions and is finally charged with contempt of court. This causes the crowd to laugh out loud. As their laughter continues and they further annoy the court, they all end up being charged one penny for the disturbance. The chief awards the pennies to the boy. And it is the man in the red shirt who is ordered to carry the disobedient rock back where it belongs. With his new money, Matt buys his breakfast and goes happily on his way.
The Trial of the Stone is based on an old folk tale that appears in various forms throughout Africa, Asia and South America.
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Richardo Keens-Douglas is a popular storyteller, playwright, actor and composer. He is the author of The Nutmeg Princess (1992), La Diablesse and the Baby (1994) honored with a Storytelling World Honor Award, Freedom Child of the Sea (1995) Grandpa's Visit (1996) and The Miss Meow Pageant (1998). Richardo divides his time between Toronto and Grenada.
Stéphane Jorisch is an award-winning artist and designer living in Montreal. He is the illustrator of The Village of a Hundred Smiles and Other Stories (1998) and The Mustache (1999).From Publishers Weekly:
In the tradition of parables like Demi's recent The Donkey and the Rock, this retelling demonstrates that wisdom often lies beneath seeming folly. Jorisch's (The Magic Mustache) light, airy paintings set the tale in an African rainforest, where young Matt decides to rest for the night before going on to his grandfather's village. Lush surroundings show hippos wallowing in a pond next to a cluster of straw huts. Matt hides his money under a rock for safekeeping, but when he awakens the next day, the coins have disappeared. The chief from the nearby town, after hearing Matt's story, demands that the stone be arrested and tried for robbery. "No one moved, thinking they must have heard wrong," writes Keens-Douglas (The Miss Meow Pageant) in a reportorial style. Jorisch records the action in limpid, exuberantly hued watercolors. But there is a method to the wily chief's seeming madness: as the trial gets underway and the stone refuses to answer questions (e.g., "What were you doing on the side of the road?"), the patent silliness of the proceedings tricks the real thief into revealing himself. This offbeat law-and-order tale should prove an effective tickler of funny bones, while it also appeases the target age group's fiercely held sense of justice. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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