I'm looking for the name of a book I read as a child. As I recall, it was in picture book format with illustrations of every page.

The plot of the book involved someone digging down and finding an unusual valuable stone or gem of some kind. They kept expanding the hole trying to find the edge of the stone so they could dig it out, and the hole became a huge pit. The king somehow got involved and under his supervision the hole kept getting bigger and bigger until the entire kingdom was one gigantic hole and they still hadn't found the edges of the stone.

I think the conclusion was that it was the heart stone of the kingdom and that the king had destroyed the kingdom with his greed. It was a book that stuck with me and I've been trying to find it to read to my children.

  • And when were you a child? A decade would help narrow the scope, but we can't know that if you don't tell us :)
    – Jenayah
    Jul 15, 2019 at 16:49
  • That is a great point. I was a child during the 1980s. Jul 18, 2019 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


The Lost Kingdom of Karnica by Richard Kennedy. Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz.

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There is a Kirkus review of the book here. The summary they give is:

A parable of greed, a conservationist allegory, but also a forceful, beautifully told story.

In the Kingdom of Karnica, an enormous red gemstone is found at the bottom of a well; and life, "not especially fine or wonderful" before but pleasant enough for most, quickly gets worse. The king is apprised of the find, and orders digging to begin. But day and night efforts, swallowing farm after farm, don't bring the diggers to the stone's end.

"The stone is the heart of the kingdom," the wise man warns. But the king will have none of it: "That's just a lot of muckle-muckle." At last, with lakes emptied, forests cut down, rivers "turned to spill over the stone and wash it," Karnica's borders are reached and only the stone's gleaming surface is left. Hundreds of boats and ships are constructed to haul it out oceanward; and when the elaborate scheme is put into effect, "the great red stone lifted from the earth and rolled over everyone on the beach and disappeared into the deeps, taking with it . . . every boat and ship."

Nothing, however, becomes this non-tendentious tale more than its crackling last line: "Surely it is a muckle-muckle shame, but it is the muckle-muckle truth."

  • Yes, that's it! Thank you. I notice it's now out of print, but there are plenty of used copies available. Jul 18, 2019 at 2:54

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