High up in the mountains, in a marble house, live a stone girl and her animal friends, who are also carved from stone. In this world, magical symbols and marks carved into stone make the stone come alive, giving it the power to move above, see, speak and hear, think, and even fly. Mayka, the stone girl, and her family of living stone birds, rabbits, a cat, an owl and others, were all carved and brought to life by a kindly master stonemason. The marks tell their stories, and the stories give them life.
Mayka and her friends live an isolated and contented life. Any harm or danger is far away in the valleys below them … except the danger of time. Their beloved Father, the stonemason, died many years ago, and gradually the magical marks etched on Mayka and her stone friends are wearing away and breaking. Harlisona the rabbit can’t speak any more ― her mark for speech accidentally chipped off ― and Turtle and most of the stone fish in their stream have stopped moving and turned back into ordinary stone.
There appears to be only one solution: Mayka decides to go down into the distant valley to find another stonemason who will be willing to climb the mountain to their home and re-etch the magical marks into their bodies. It’s a scary journey into the unknown, even for a girl made of stone … but the quest will be even more difficult than Mayka imagines.
The Stone Girl’s Story (2018) is such a charming middle grade fantasy! Mayka, carved in the semblance of a twelve year old girl, is an admirable heroine with a can-do attitude and courage in the face of the unknown. At the same time, she’s also a kind and loyal friend, determined to do whatever is necessary to save the lives of her friends, but also seeing the bigger picture when a danger arises that could threaten the free will of all living stone animals, and even lead to harm for the humans who are their keepers. Her creative approach to solving a difficult problem will entrance readers.
This story includes lots of humor, most of it supplied by Jacklo, a gray stone bird with an irrepressible personality and a joy for life. Jacklo and his bird sister Risa insist on joining Mayka on her journey down to the human lands.
“We were elected to come with you.”
“Oh? Who elected you?” Mayka asked.
“It was a small election,” Jacklo said. “Very small. Only two votes. But we won in a landslide! There was a lot of cheering.”
Sarah Beth Durst has a knack for describing the living stone carvings, their magical markings, and the Stone Quarter in the city of Skye, where the stonemasons live and work, with vivid details that bring them to life. Kalgrey the cat’s marks say, in symbolic language, “Sharp of tongue and claws, nimble of paws and mind.” Si-Si is a knee-high dragon carved of a lovely, translucent orange stone, but she struggles with knowing that she’s always been valued only for being decorative, and longs with all her heart to be able to fly like Jacklo and Risa. And I won’t soon forget Kisonan the noble stone griffin, offended by the questioning of his loyalty and determined to do what is right.
The Stone Girl’s Story is a delightful, magical tale, with depth and insight as well as action and adventure. I highly recommend it for young readers in the 10-13 age range, and for those of any age who enjoy children’s fantasies.