The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stone Fox

          I was reading some of Dianne Graveman's old postings and found one about Stone Fox.

          In case you are not familiar with the story, it is a book suitable for elementary students.  I have used it with third graders, but at that age, they need support in order to understand the concepts.  It would be a great book to use with sixth graders, especially with  struggling readers; the text is not very difficult, but the story is engaging.

         Willie lives with his grandfather and his trusty sled dog, Searchlight, on a potato farm.  It is just the three of them.  They are about to lose their farm, as they owe a great deal of back taxes.  The farm is all they have...So despondent, Grandfather "checks out" mentally, becomes bedridden, and becomes uncommunicative.

       Fortunately, Willie discovers there is a sled race, and the prize money will cover their debt.

       Unfortunately, Stone Fox has also entered the race.  He is a Native American who never speaks to white people because of the way his nation has been treated.  Stone Fox has a whole team of champion sled dogs; each time he wins a race, he uses the prize money to buy back his tribes' land, the land that has been "stolen" by white people.

         In the race, the two are neck and neck right up to the second-to-last chapter. Each of them should win; they both have noble causes.  And then the unthinkable happens...

         I won't tell you what happens unless you either 1) torture me with milk chocolate or 2) pay me scads of money.  However, I will tell you that if you don't cry, you need to go to Whoville and spend some time with little Cindy Lou Who, because you're heartless...

         It's a short book (around 100 pages, and that includes illustrations) and the author, John Reynolds Gardiner is an awesome speaker.  I once saw him speak at a conference, and he told the story of getting this bestseller published.  He claims there were 138 errors in his manuscript--spelling mistakes, grammatical gaffes, and so on...In 100 or so pages, that's a lot of mistakes.

          His message:  Don't squash the spirit of a writer by paying too much attention to the deficits, the errors.  There are writers who are reluctant to put down their words because they are not confident about things that are really inconsequential.  Spelling is easily fixed. Grammar can be examined during editing.  But a great story is priceless... 


  1. Great review! And I really love the points about great writers versus "proper" grammar, etc. So true!!

  2. Love the message you share from Mr. Gardiner. Should be a plaque made up to hang over critique groups everywhere as a reminder that, yes, it really IS the story. Enjoyed the review (especially your milk chocolate torture). The book sounds familiar, but I don't think I've read it. Will find it next time I visit the library and have a read since I'm working on a YA. Thanks, Sioux! And keep up the good work with NaNo!


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