Meg McKinlay, A Single Stone, Walker Books, 1 May 2015, 271pp., $16.95 (pbk), IBSN 9781925081701.
A Single Stone is a beautifully written spine tingling story about a mysterious tribe which relies on mica to warm and light their community. Tiny, slight girls are prized because they can climb into the mountain and harvest the metal. The distribution of the mica depends on the type of service each family provides. Families with no daughters harvesting the metal only receive a small distribution. Tiny, slight girls do not always occur naturally, so that the tribe has developed a number of methods to keep them this way.
A Single Stone is a very visual story and the descriptions of being inside the mountain are so vivid.
‘She has been here many times since, has sat for hours inside the stony walls, has clambered and crawled through their endless forbidden crevices. Sometimes a flash of bluestone catches her eye and she turns her lamp’s flame to the wall, trailing her fingers across the flaking surface. People split the mountain open for this once but there is no need for that now. The plain that sweeps down to the sea is studded with it. It lies in rich, open veins right there on the ground.’
A Single Stone is suitable for children ten and over. It would also make a great movie.
Meg McKinlay’s novel, Surface Tension, won the Best Young Fiction category of Sisters in Crime’s 2012 Davitt Awards and she has been short-listed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards on three occasions.
Reviewed by Katy Gerner