Numerous picture books have tried to capture the fizz and sparkle with which words and pictures create and bring to life whole worlds, increasing the understanding and providing context for the life experiences that readers have. Paradoxically these often feel a little flat, perhaps because the set of process that are set into motion are so personal and complex that it is difficult to do them adequate justice…
Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s A Child of Books is a tour de force and one that deserves a place on the bookshelves of every bibliophile throughout the land. Taking as its central premise the idea of a child created from books – from the stories, invention, ideas and imagination that surround her – it provides a treatise on the way that books provide immersion, guidance and endless illumination throughout our lives.
One of the major achievements of the book is the way that its story not only figuratively carries readers through this process, but also the means through which its method of illustration – it’s clever hyper-textual references and typographic effects, extracts from Heidi, Treasure Island, Robinson Cruesoe and many, many form the building blocks of oceans, mountains and clouds – literally form the embodiment of that. Where Jeffers and Winston’s art succeeds so well is in its understated quality, the spare nature of both the text of its narration and illustration. There are no weighted sentiments here, but instead, a range of poignant staccato statements and indelible images that readers are able to readily identify with and that make a lasting imprint and impression.
With the loving attention to detail and lavish production values, A Child of Books feels the perfect title to recommend on International Literacy Day and an ideal way to help share positive associations with books, stories and reading and one that might just form a portal to a good many other powerful and poignant stories and reads.
This is our world we’re made from stories…
Jake Hope is a Reading Development and Children’s Book Consultant. He has worked as the Reading and Learning Development Manager for Lancashire Libraries, one of the largest authorities in the United Kingdom. Jake is an active member of the Youth Libraries Group both on the North West and National Committees. He is an avid reader and commentator on reading and books for children and young people.