The Seeing Stick

Written by Jane Yolen

Illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

Review by Jessi Cox, President, Lee’s Summit Council


Jane Yolen wrote this? This was my first reaction after stumbling upon The Seeing Stick from my school media specialist. In fact, I had to slowly process this…It’s not her usual poem (it is not Least Things). It’s not her usual style (it is not Owl Moon). It’s not her usual illustrations (it was not How Do Dinosaurs).


I WAS HOOKED. Let me explain.


First of all, there are no words to describe the illustrations in this book. The pictures have a certain darkness and seriousness hidden inside them. The pages that are chosen to have a splash of color have a texture and certain depth. (I have a theory of why this is….but you have to read the book to find out for yourself. Just please be sure to touch the pages slowly with your fingers.)


The story takes place in Peking. Hwei Min, the only daughter of the emperor of China, has been blind since birth. Her father struggles to accept that his only daughter is born with a disability so he offers a reward to anyone who can find a cure for the little girl. It seems that no one from magicians to physicians can help her. Then, one day a wise old man with a mysterious seeing stick visits the princess. Will he be able to teach Hwei Min that there is more than one way to see the world?


This story could be used in any grade level from first grade all the way to high school. The students will need to pay close attention to the story along the way in order to make inferences as to the old man and his stick. I asked numerous questions along the way. I had to synthesize. This book had me thinking! This book is a must read. You will want to know how the story ends! The last sentence on the last page gave me goosebumps.


This story was first published in 1977. I can’t imagine why this book is not well known. Maybe it is. Maybe if you are reading this and it might be one of your favorites. I, however, have now found its greatness.




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