Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have penned another tale for middle-grade readers who enjoy a touch of fantasy along with a dose of real-world kid issues. I promise: you will never look at beach pebbles the same way after reading Stone Faces!
Read on for my review and learn more about the authors. Don’t forget to scroll to the end and enter for your chance to win a $25US gift card in the “Stone Faces” Blog Tour Giveaway I’m hosting in partnership with BeachBoundBooks.
What Kids Will Like
Actually, children may not like Alice at first: she is mean to friends and family. But she'll grow on kids. They'll soon empathize with her struggle as the authors peel back layers of Alice’s despair when her parents separate during her summer vacation. Ouch.
The tale takes place mainly along the New England coast and captures the essence of summering there. (On a side note, I found the book’s cover of a smiling Alice against a cityscape confusing. That illustration did not match my view of the book’s plot and main setting, but that was a minor distraction.) The beach is where fun and fantasy creep in. Kids will fall for Mr. Happy Man and Alice’s other stone friends, who find the perfect way to support her. I love the authors’ creativity here with their fanciful, kid-friendly ‘rolling stones.’
The mean (but not scary) witch is a boo-worthy antagonist, who threatens Alice and her stone friends. Plus at 55 pages, the book is a fast, easy read that concludes in a positive way.
What Parents, Teachers Will Like
There’s fun to be had with frolicking beach stones; however, this book is a springboard to rich discussion. The first-person narrative helps kids get into Alice’s mind. They’ll understand her fragility and why she uses her stone face to protect her damaged psyche. Without diminishing the character’s legitimate emotions, the book opens doors to surfacing positive ways children can deal with hurt and anger.
Stone Faces also offers life lessons about divorce and changing family dynamics. Children learn there are different kinds of family units in society, and each unit is okay. No need for guilt or ridicule.
CAVEAT: Be prepared to answer your young reader's questions about divorce and separation. Children in a two-parent family may want to know if their parents could split up like Alice’s.
For children of divorce, Stone Faces might surface feelings of anger or resentment that can lead to discussion and understanding. I applaud the authors for demonstrating how divorced parents still love their children, who are blameless when adults move in different directions.
I highly recommend Stone Faces for children in grade 3-6. It’s a dual-level tale rich in imaginative fantasy with its frolicking stones while also addressing real struggle with complex family dynamics.
I was provided with a free digital copy this book in exchange for an honest review.
Cat Michaels, M.S., Ed.
BeachBoundbooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the middle grade fantasy Stone Faces: An Alice and Friends Book by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks. The tour will run September 19 - October 3, 2016.
About the Book
Title: Stone Faces: An Alice and Friends Book | Author: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Publication Date: July 12, 2016 | Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Number of Pages: 66
Book Description: Stone Faces is the story of a ten-year-old girl named Alice who notices one day that her parents’ faces have turned to stone. Soon afterward, they tell her they are going to get divorced and, in reaction, she allows her own face to turn to stone because she doesn’t want anyone to know how much this hurts her. It is easier to deal with her friends when her stone face is in place, but she also begins to find herself alone more and more. While on her summer vacation at her aunt’s house on Cape Cod, she sees a stone on the beach in the shape of a laughing man’s face (called Mr. Happy Man). She soon discovers that this stone can talk and that it has friends among the other beach stones, who play games in the sand when people aren’t around. Together with Mr. Happy Man and his friends, Alice develops an ingenious scheme to help her parents resolve their differences. Their plans are thrown awry when a woman finds Mr. Happy Man in the sand and walks off with him. Alice decides to rescue the stone and sneaks into the woman’s house where she learns that the woman is actually a witch.
Read an Excerpt
The trouble actually started way before the summer. In fact, it was early spring when my parents and I took that long walk in Central Park. We all should have been in a really great mood because (finally!) the sun was out and it was nice and warm. But I remember glancing over at my mom and dad again and again as we walked, thinking that both of their faces had changed. It’s tough to describe. Their features had gotten sort of hard. They looked a lot like the carved stone faces on some of the buildings in our neighborhood.
Anyway, I pretended that nothing was wrong and forgot about it until it was time to start planning our summer vacation.
Here’s the thing—I love going to the seashore more than almost anything in the whole world. Every summer for as long as I can remember, my mom and my dad packed up our car with all our beach stuff (and snacks for the long ride). Then, we drove the five and a half hours from New York City to visit my aunt in a place called Provincetown on the very tip of Cape Cod.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love New York City. My mom and I can take the bus to my dance classes, and a subway to where I belong to a kids’ theater group on Saturdays. We can walk to my school, to the field house where my soccer team plays, and to the gym where my dad and I shoot hoops. So, yeah, I love New York City.
There’s just one problem. Until I’m older, I pretty much have to stay glued to an adult’s side whenever I leave our apartment. When I’m twelve, my mom says I can take the bus by myself to certain places. When I’m thirteen, I’ll be able to go on the subway. Depending.
Depending on what, you might ask. Just depending my mom says back. Gag! I hate the word depending. Anyway, here’s the point—in Provincetown I’m free. I can take walks by myself all over town. The only catch is that I have to stay within a block of Commercial Street, which is like the Broadway of Provincetown. It is usually so crowded that people can’t even fit on the sidewalks and so they walk in the street. It’s like a big pedestrian mall.
And best of all, I can go out to the bay beach by myself and swim, so long as there’s a lifeguard on duty. I love to be tossed by the waves and paddle through the swells in the deep water. I love to make sand castles and look for shells and stones and beach glass and driftwood. The beach is pretty much my idea of paradise.
So, maybe you can understand why I was really upset in early June when my mom and dad sat me down in our living room late one afternoon for a talk. It was getting dark outside. Thunderstorms were predicted, and the sky was almost black. I sat on the sofa by myself. They were each in their own chair across from me, and they were each trying to smile. But it was no use with those stone faces of theirs. I was so nervous I almost couldn’t hear what my mother was saying.
About the Authors
When Anne Rothman was a student at Bryn Mawr College and Kenneth Hicks was a student at Haverford College, they began writing together in an independent-study course with one of Ken’s professors. A brief interlude ensued while Anne wrote wonderful poetry and Ken wrote a book about hitchhiking (The Complete Hitchhiker Tobey Publishing, Dell Distribution), but they soon got back together as writers when Ken was in law school at Columbia University and Anne was paying the rent by working in publishing. They have continued to write together for about forty years and in that time have published four adult novels, eleven non-fiction books for children, two fiction books for middle readers, and two photography books. They also produced three children whom they love even more than writing.
Between projects, they started a web site www.randh71productions.com. In case you were wondering about the address, “R” is for Rothman, “H” is for Hicks, and “71” is the year of their marriage. No secret codes or numerology anywhere.
Blog Tour Giveaway
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.
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