Review Blog

Jun 09 2015

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

cover image

Walker Books, 2015. ISBN: 9781925081701
Highly recommended for age 11+. (Note for younger readers: Information about birthing is veiled; significant deaths occur, but only basic detail is given). Themes: Bravery; Society Rules; Matriarchal rule; Fantasy; Defying authority. Jena is a very successful harvester of the valuable wealth that is locked deep within the mountain crevices, a mountain that also locks them into their valley and community. A significant earthquake from the past has kept the community from any attempt at escaping their circumstances, and so they must learn to survive. Collectively, they control their society rules to cope with their restricted freedoms. They particularly manipulate their young girls by binding them or readjusting their bone growth so that they remain slender and lithe and flexible enough to creep inside the mountain cracks in order to seek out the mica that becomes their winter fuel. This claustrophobic searching creates a tension for the reader as we too travel with the very young girls as they twist through the fissures within the mountain in the search for potential warmth for their community.
The complication for the story comes when Jena discovers that the older Matriarchs in the community have been giving pregnant mothers 'tonics' that effectively create early births, and then potentially smaller daughters. Her journey of discovery to reveal the myths of her community and to unearth the dangers of their practices is almost like a journey through a labyrinth of societal secrets.
I can highly recommend this book. It is a fantasy tale, but is really an exploration of what can happen when the struggle for survival, combined with isolation from outside influences, causes guidelines to be created that can eventually undermine the fabric of the society. It takes a brave soul to question the status quo. This book contains predominantly female characters, with few male characters.
Carolyn Hull

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2018
National Book Award winners 2017
Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2017
YABBA Awards 2017
Teens' top 10
2017 Man Booker Prize
Australian Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature 2017 winners
2017 Children's Peace Literature Award Short List
Inkys Awards 2017
2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award
2017 NSW Premier's History Awards
The Queensland Literary Awards 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2017
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Bookmark and poster templates