Review of The Caterpillar and the Stone by Erec Stebbins

What sadness could be so great that it could wring tears from a stone?

Erec Stebbins has written a “love storybook for not-quite grown-ups” that delves into love, separation, and change. Yes, even deep love sometimes goes through devastating changes. And this applies not only to stones and caterpillars but to people as well.

The stone in question here was deeply in love with a caterpillar. She returned his love. The stone and the caterpillar lived a harmonious life in a beautiful garden. “. . . the stone loved the times when she (the caterpillar) rested on his back, because he liked to hold her high, and thought sometimes that she was the Queen of all the Garden.” The relationship was frowned on by the other stones and caterpillars; it just did not seem right to them.  But it felt right to the caterpillar and the stone.

Then trouble came into their paradise.

The stone had to go to work, filling a hole in the fence which the dog next door was digging bigger so he could come into the garden. When the stone was at work, the caterpillar visited with other caterpillars.

Gradually the caterpillar grew cold toward the stone. When she built a cocoon in a pine tree he asked to come with her. But she refused to allow him to go with her on her mysterious journey. She knew what she was doing was right for her. Even so, the stone was sad and promised to wait for her. But when she returned, she had changed. She was a butterfly and no longer desired the ways of before.

The butterfly flew with the others butterflies and for many years the stone mourned. Despair wrung tears from the stone.

He went to the Old Stone with questions. His old friend had no answers. He said, “On some, a great burden is placed, that they may grow wise, if they bear the weight.”

“For how long? Can I bear the weight, and not crack into lesser stones?”

“Who can tell? Have courage, young Stone, and seek to carry it to the end.”


There is a lot of truth in this “fairy tale for not-quite adults”  and even, we must add, adults .

About the author/illustrator:

Erec Stebbins was born in the Midwest, spent his adolescence in the Deep South, and was educated in the Northeast. He received a degree in physics from Oberlin College in 1992, and a Ph. D in biochemistry from Cornell University in 1999. Presently, he lives and works in New York City as a scientist and professor in biomedical research at the Rockefeller University.

The beautiful illustrations in this book give the appearance of out-of-focus watery water colors. They do not follow the story line as in a picture book for young children, but give impressions of the garden that even the other gardens agreed was “the most beautiful of them all.”


Kindle or paperback:

Hard back:

Twice Pi Press

contact information:


Narrated iBook from Apple


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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Penelope Anne Cole
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 15:51:15

    Hi Barbara, Thanks for sharing about this book. It’s a a poignant story of love and change and loss that many have faced or will face. Wishing him much success with his story.


  2. Barbara Bockman
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 22:57:28

    Hi Penny,
    Yes, I thought the story was poignant, but it speaks to the experience of many people.


  3. Jessica
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 01:09:18

    This sounds like a beautiful, but mournful, story about relationships and what happens when people grow and change but not together. I looked up the book online and saw some samples of the artwork, I like the abstractness of it.


  4. Zoe
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 01:12:06

    This makes me feel sad for the stone. But I feel like even though the stone was sad about losing the caterpillar you can’t see the caterpillar as the bad guy because caterpillars are supposed to grow and change, just in different ways than a stone. I think the stone’s growth was internal.


  5. N
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 07:00:55

    Interesting concept. So glad you featured the book on your blog, Barbara. I like the originality of it.


  6. Nancy Stewart
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 07:02:08

    The N above was me. Sorry about that…


  7. Barbara Bockman
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 16:31:50

    Jessica, Zoe, and Nancy,
    Thank you for visiting and responding to the review. “Abstract” is the perfect way to describe the artwork, Jessica. (Sorry this blog is giving me trouble with uploading pictures). No, Zoe, I don’t this there is a bad guy here; change is a natural part of life. Yes, Nancy, this is an original way of approaching a picture book.


  8. Erec Stebbins
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 19:06:44

    I wanted to thank Barbara and all those who have written reviews of the novel. As the author, I don’t like to force my interpretation on the story. But if people want to know my opinion, a driving force of the narrative was to see that often what seems “wrong” and “bad” from a limited perspective is actually something beautiful from another. I remembered Richard Bach’s quote (I think from “Illusions”): “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.”


  9. Susan Hornbach
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 22:26:33

    I enjoyed this review Barbara. It sounds like a lovely story with important life lessons for children. Best wishes and much success to you Erec.


  10. Margo Dill
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 18:41:44

    Eric: Thanks for your comment–I can see that. Susan–thanks for the review. It sounds interesting!


  11. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 22:07:50

    This fanciful story sounds like it’s most suited to those of us who, despite our years, still appreciate the art of the fairy tale. Thank you for the eloquent review, Barbara.


  12. Barbara Bockman
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 00:27:25

    Eric, I’m glad you stopped by.
    Susan, Margo, and Michelle, I’m glad you read the review and made comments. This is a book with different angles for different people.


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    Jan 13, 2015 @ 19:45:17

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