The Amazing Bone by William Steig is a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year as well as a Caldecott Honor book. And it’s easy to see why.
The Amazing Bone is the story of a sweet little pig named Pearl who is meandering through the flowers on her way home one day when she finds a magic talking bone. She decides to bring it home, but doesn’t get far before trouble surrounds her. When robbers with guns and knives leap out and try to catch her, the bone squawks loud enough to deter them. Pearl continues on her way, but soon finds herself faced with a
dashing fox in a tailored suit and a lilac in his lapel. He isn’t easily tricked by her little magic bone. He makes arrangements to have her for dinner, locking her in an empty room. The bone saves the day in the end and Pearl arrives home safely.
If the The Amazing Bone wasn’t so well done, it might appear to be a scary story. Older children will realize that a talking bone is hilarious and that things turned out fine in the end. Younger children will learn a good lesson on stranger danger but will also be captivated by Pearl and her adventure.
The illustrations and the colors used will capture the attention of children while hearing or reading the words of the story. You might have to play down the “robbers” part for really younger children so they won’t be scared. However, the premise of the story and the writing are just as amazing as other books by Steig, which always carry meaning held within their words. The author is known for incorporating small objects such as this bone into his stories.
All of Steig’s childrens books are magical. This one is even more so. The story is told with squiggles and lines and sparse dabs of color. A lot is left to the reader’s imagination. The bone becomes a part of Pearl’s family and the story rounds out with a feel-good ending.