Milo and the Magical Stones by Marcus Pfister

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Milo and the Magical Stones

I have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a child, in which some pages ended in a choice, leading you to different story strands and eventually, via further choices, different endings, usually dependent on a mixture of luck or your own clever predictions. This book is like that, but with only one choice and a blasting moral imperative. Show gratitude and conserve the world! Or die, miserable, cold and alone…This might sound annoying, yet it is charmingly told and illustrated, with the magical stones picked out in gold foil, an effect beloved of artists and viewers since the Middle Ages, and no less effective here. Mice on a pretty island live a reasonably pleasant subsistence lifestyle until one day a mouse discovers a magical stone in a tunnel, emitting light and heat. (Oh, what can the analogy be, dear reader?)

The other mice all want one too, to see them through the chilly nights, and an old wise mouse advises them to give something back to the earth for every stone, and to take only one each. In option one, that’s what they do…dutifully substituting handcrafted items for the stones and living happily and warmly in the glow of the stones forever after. In option two, of course, there’s a human-style free-for-all as the mice mine the f**k out of the island and end up with worse than nothing. I guess, if you would like to introduce your child to the ethics of using carbon fuels in an indirect way, this would be a good book to start with. Or, you could keep the moral to the idea of playground sharing, and simply enjoy the adorable mouse pictures and the fun of flipping the pages to different endings.

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