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The Flint Heart


The Flint Heart

written by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson, illustrated by John Rocco

During the Stone Age, the small tribes of Dartmoor, England, relied on stone for everything. This included their homes, axes, and even weapons. In the little rock village of Grimspound, a clever and mysterious man named Fum had the uncanny ability of creating magical charms out of stone. One of these charms, the Flint Heart, was not what you would expect. Instead of bringing happiness and prosperity to the wearer, it only brought destruction and bitterness. After Fum’s small village was nearly destroyed by the Flint Heart, it was buried deep beneath the earth in the grave of a corrupt chief who had worn it during his terrible reign. Thankfully, it remained buried for 5,000 years, give or take.

About a hundred years ago, the Flint Heart was unearthed by an unsuspecting farmer who, before finding the mysterious charm, enjoyed life with his wife, nine children and a sheepdog. After finding it, the farmer turned cold and angry with his family, so the children decided to have a meeting and figure out what to do. Spurred on by the middle child, Charles, and his younger sister Unity, the kids decide that perhaps a gift for their father will cheer him up. Thus, Charles decides to visit the pixies who no doubt will know what kind of present to give.

Meeting up with pixies is never easy, though, and in order to help with his question of what to get his father, Charles finds himself invited to a great banquet where he will be able to speak with the Zagabog, the best and most brilliant creature in the universe. Younger sister Unity and the sheepdog, Ship, tag along, and after an evening filled with stories, food, dancing, laughter and amazement, Charles finally gets his answer. All he needs to do is rid his father of the Flint Heart and all will be well. Early next morning, Charles carries out the plan, flings the Flint Heart into a nearby swamp, and all is well.

Or is it? The Flint Heart, as it has been shown, is a very powerful charm and has the power to sway the hearts of even the smallest creatures. Charles, Unity and Ship soon encounter more problems as the Flint Heart begins to influence the animals around their farm. A return to the pixies is in order, but will Charles be able to stop the power of the Flint Heart once and for all?

Katherine Paterson, current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and her husband, John, loosely base THE FLINT HEART off of Eden Phillpott’s 1910 original story. An image of a Pixie is not one easily conjured in the mind, but thankfully illustrator John Rocco, who has worked on the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, provides colorful and creative illustrations throughout. My favorite part of the book is that the pixies encourage the concept of looking at ideas from a new point of view. Often a different point of view will present much more of the truth than originally known. The same can be said for this heartwarming retelling of a classic.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on September 27, 2011

The Flint Heart
written by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson, illustrated by John Rocco

  • Publication Date: August 14, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763662437
  • ISBN-13: 9780763662431