Published by Philomel in 2015
On last week’s venture to the Union County Library I tried to borrow a variety of picture books to temporarily place ON MY SHELF. Last Friday I shared Jane Yolen’s sweet book for young children You Nest Here with Me.
I also borrowed two very different books by Jane Yolen, Stone Angel and The Stranded Whale. Both lean heavily on nonfiction material as part of a fictional story. Both are for older elementary and middle school children to enjoy. Both are illustrated beautifully, but in a very subdued media. To me the illustrations redirect the reader’s attention straight to the text and to the information conveyed through the stories and characters.
Stone Angel is a historical fiction story involving fictional characters in a tale that was lived out in truth thousands of times during World War II in Europe. A Jewish family in Paris was forced to flee. Forced to live in the woods for months. Forced to walk their way to Spain. Forced to cross the southern portion of the North Sea and the English Channel to live in safety until World War II was over.
Yolen succeeds in bringing information about World War II to life by allowing readers to see it through the hearts and minds of one small family. She personalizes events that happened in a distant place and time, and in a totally different culture with a vastly different worldview.
I believe middle schoolers will enjoy this book as much as lower elementary children. But, be prepared to answer a lot of questions that this tale is bound to gender in your listeners’ minds.
I think that is exactly what Stone Angel was created to do.