“Run!” cried Pico. “A Great Wave is coming!”
But Pico’s father, working hard to carve one of the giant stone faces of Easter Island, a moai, ignores the warning. Nothing can save him … unless, perhaps, the old stories are true. Even as the tsunami crashes against the shore, Pico discovers that those half-forgotten stories might hold some great surprises. For this is the day he never expected — the day the stones walked.
Easter Island is one of the world’s most remote places. And also one of the world’s most mysterious. For centuries, people have wondered about those huge stone faces — especially why all the carving suddenly stopped.
Combining the powerful, magical writing of T.A. Barron and the luminous, dramatic painting of William Low, this book provides a glimpse of what might have happened on Easter Island. And of what might yet happen on our own, larger island called Earth.
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“Finally someone has written an Easter Island book for children that is just that. It’s a little story about a boy, Pico, his father a moai carver, and a tidal wave that brings the two together in an appreciation of their heritage. The illustrations by William Low are true to their subject matter and have the powerful feel one gets when viewing the moai in person. The story, though fiction, has that same feel, probably due to the author’s genuine appreciation for the place, the people, and their marvelous works.
“This book even passed the grandchildren test; holding the interest of a five and an eight year old who up until now have been reluctant to share their Grandfather’s appreciation for all things Rapanui, and for that I thank T.A. Barron and William Low.”
— Easter Island Foundation
“The Day the Stones Walked is a story told with poetic language and beautiful, rich illustrations. The author, T.A. Barron, is a New York Times best-selling author who has written many highly acclaimed books. Barron’s flowing words, paired together with the illustrations of William Low, an artist who is well-known for his imaginative mixed-media artwork, create a story that is unique and magical. More importantly, the book shows the importance and strength of a father’s bond with his son, and shows that family ties are more important than anything else.
— Dayton Books Examiner
“The Day the Stones Walked by T.A. Barron concludes with an author’s note about the long-ago deforestation of Easter Island. ‘Will we, who live on the bigger island called Earth, make the same mistake on a much larger scale?'”
— The Wall Street Journal
“Barron has done it again, the perfect blend of wonderful imagery and great storytelling.”
— Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council
“Legend has it that the enormous stone statues on Easter Island can help the people when they are in danger. Aware of an approaching tsunami, young Pico runs to warn his father, who is carving one of the stones. Pico is engulfed by the towering wave, gets tangled in seaweed, and is saved only by holding onto one of the totems: ‘Half drowned, I barely held on. All at once, the statue seemed to shift beneath me. To lift me higher. And then — To walk.’ Using a palette made up of browns, greens, and blues in Adobe Photoshop, the artist depicts the statues in dramatic, sometimes eerie spreads (‘…great chins jutted, dark eyes peered, and harsh brows loomed, on bodies that stood six or seven times taller than me’); the big wave as it crashes on shore; and the boy as he struggles underwater. A touching illustration on the final pages shows Pico being embraced by his father. The author also provides some fascinating information about the statues and the ancient culture that created them. This picture book will be enjoyed by children who are old enough to deal with the fantastical and scary elements in the story.”
— School Library Journal
“Barron’s dramatic text is matched by Low’s careful use of light and shadow in his compelling illustrations.”
— The Los Angeles Times
“The simple story brings several of Barron’s frequent concerns—kids, nature and an underlying sense of mystery—to life. Pico, a young boy from the South Pacific, lives through a terrifying, yet illuminating, tsunami that sheds light on one of history’s true enigmas, the “moai” of Easter Island. Barron’s writing is movingly poetic, nicely accompanying Low’s richly colored mixed-media illustrations.”
— Boulder Daily Camera
“While Mr. Barron adds an ecological note in the afterwards, for me the most powerful part of the narrative was the relationship between father and son — the ancestor story. Teachers at almost any level (social studies in the upper grades) could find something to connect to their curriculum. EL, MS, HS — ADVISABLE.”
— Cindy Mitchell, Librarian, South Jordan Middle School, Utah
“In an essential Note at the end of the book T.A. Barron writes that when he visited the great carved faces of Easter Island he ‘had no idea that the stones themselves would tell me a story.’ And it is a profoundly moving story that young and old will ponder and return to.
“Young Pico is the child of one of the great carvers of Easter Island at the height of its former glory. Pico’s father believes that the gigantic heads — the moai — can come to life and help people in time of trouble. Pico does not take this seriously until he is caught by a huge wave — larger than a mountain. Overwhelmed by the power of the ocean, Pico becomes aware of voices “deeper than the sea itself” while the wave displaces even the great carved stones. In this moment the boy discovers his spiritual connection to his people — and survives. But in many ways, his island is already declining, even without the ‘help’ of the violent wave.
“The tsunami is a matter of archeological record, one still remembered by present-day spirit-singers of Easter Island. But there is more to the story than this at one time, Easter Island was covered with subtropical forest that supported a much more complex culture than it does nowadays. The people used the forest for everything, and in time it was exhausted, along with the plants and animals that lived there. Without the forests, the Easter Islanders and their achievements dwindled as well.
“Barron rightly hopes that readers can learn from the experience of Easter Island. ‘Kids need to know the truth,’ he remarks. Indeed, this book makes the truth very compelling, although for me, the spiritual connection with the great carvings was the one that lingered longest.”
— Antoinette Botsford