The Amazing Bone


William Steig

New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976

28 pp

5 and up

One fine sunny day Pearl the Pig loiters on her way home from school. She finds a small bone that can talk. He tells her he fell out of a witch’s basket, and certainly comes in handy when Pearl is menaced by bandits and a hungry fox. Pearl and the bone eventually make it home safe and sound.

An engaging and funny tale, with some very scary moments. The robbers who waylay our heroine look a little silly in their Hallowe’en masks, but are heavily armed, with knives and a gun, which is pointed directly at Pearl’s head. The bigger threat, however, is the suave fox, who leads Pearl to his home. The creepiness of his house may register more with parents reading than with children – it’s a tumbledown shack, the yard strewn with garbage and liquor bottles.

Inside the fox prepares to cook his victim. Pearl spends some very anxious moments in the next room, talking with the bone about her impending death before she is dragged into the kitchen. At the last moment the bone manages some magic of his own and saves his new best friend from her fate.

I love most of William Steig’s books, but I found this one scary and a little upsetting, in this era of highly-publicized child abductions. Even though the characters are all animals, and thus somewhat distanced from human situations, I’d still recommend skipping this title if your child is prone to abduction fears or nightmares. Try Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble instead.


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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