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The Great Stone Face
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-The Great Stone Face (more commonly referred to today as "The Old Man of the Mountains) juts out from the White Mountains of New Hampshire and looms over a small village. An old prophecy states that: "Someone will be born hereabouts who will look just like the Great Stone Face, and he will be the noblest person of his time." Like many others, young Ethan watches the faces of returning famous men for signs of the gentle wisdom seen in the face. The rich merchant, however, is grasping, the soldier only stern, and the politician-well, a politician. Ethan, meanwhile, works hard on his farm, and is looked up to by his neighbors for the thoughtful counsel he offers. When he is an old man, people remark that they fear they will never see the prophecy fulfilled. Ethan's granddaughter, touching his face, remarks that it was fulfilled long ago. Schmidt has done a credible job of retelling Hawthorne's classic tale, eliminating flowery language, and rendering it accessible for a new generation. While the story is intrinsically a teaching tool, this retelling avoids didacticism and lets the events speak for themselves. Farnsworth's oil paintings do a fine job of capturing the beauty of the New England landscape. There is a still, slightly hazy quality to them that is entirely appropriate to the meditative tone of the book. This thoughtful look at what it means to live a good life is as relevant today as when first written.
Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-5. In Schmidt's picture-book retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, young Ethan grows to manhood in a small New Hampshire village within view of the Great Stone Face in the granite cliffs. He learns of the prophecy connected with the face--a person will be born who resembles the carving and then go on to live a noble life. On several occasions the villagers feel that the prophecy has come to pass, but each time Ethan realizes that the person's character is flawed. Much later Ethan's granddaughter recognizes that it is Ethan himself who looks like the noble image. The text is clear and succinct, with a stately rhythm that lends itself to reading aloud, and Farnsworth's beautifully rendered oil paintings reflect both the nineteenth-century New England setting as well as the elegant tone of the text. The artist excels at landscapes, but his faces are also wonderfully impressive. The intended audience will probably be unfamiliar with both Hawthorne and the original story, but this aptly told version will spark much discussion about character and a life well lived. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This is an easy to read story, suitable both for adults and children, about the psychological and mystical workings of the human mind.
THE first three numbers in this collection are tales of the White Hills in New Hampshire. The passages from Sketches from Memory show that Hawthorne had visited the mountains in one of his occasional rambles from home, but there are no entries in his Note Books which give accounts of such a visit. There is, however, among these notes the following interesting paragraph, written in 1840 and clearly foreshadowing The Great Stone Face: 'The semblance of a human face to be formed on the side of a mountain, or in the fracture of a small stone, by a lusus naturae [freak of nature]. The face is an object of curiosity for years or centuries, and by and by a boy is born whose features gradually assume the aspect of that portrait. At some critical juncture the resemblance is found to be perfect. A prophecy may be connected.'
Card catalog description
As the years pass and his small village grows, Ethan watches for the fulfillment of the prophecy that someone born looking like the Great Stone Face up on the mountain will be the greatest, noblest person of his time.
From the Publisher
Kessinger Publishing reprints over 1,500 similar titles all available through Amazon.com.
About the Author
Best known for his novels The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. A perennial favorite of American literature, his literary stature continues to grow.
Award-winning photographer P. J. SAINE writes frequently, lectures internationally, and exhibits his photography in galleries and museums. He is a faculty member of Dartmouth Medical School and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
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