Last week we tackled Gerald McDermott’s Pueblo inspired tale, Arrow to the Sun, for this review we turn to the East to examine McDermott’s Japanese inspired tale, The Stonecutter. The book began as McDermott’s first animated film and was turned into a book in 1978. The Stonecutter is a widely known folk tale about man’s never satisfied desire for power, however McDermott end’s his tale on a darker note than the original. This new ending allows parents to slightly scare their kids while making a point, which always makes the point stick better.
The folk tale follows the path of a ordinary stonecutter who sees the world around him and wishes he had more money and fame. His wish is granted, but of course it is not enough as he realizes money and fame only get you so far, but if you want real power you must become like the sun or the clouds. Yet, even these powerful elements aren’t enough and when he realizes that the mountain is strongest, he asked to be turned into stone. In the end, the story circles back to the title of the book and you can guess what happens. The Eastern influenced art makes the story spooky and darker than most children’s books made today, but it serves to remind us that in the seventies everyone was trying to “keep it real.”