A child of books by Oliver Jeffers

cover image

Ill. by Sam Winston. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406358315
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Books. Classic stories. Every few years a book comes along which extols the virtues of books and reading, told in a way which initiates discussion and sharing, illustrated so beautifully that everyone reading it will look at the drawings more closely, stopping on each page to breathe in the images presented. Children and adults alike will read and discuss this book, taking time to share their reminiscences of books read long ago or just yesterday, sharing their ideas on what makes a classic, importuning others to read books they have read and enjoyed.
Each page has text from a recognised classic story: Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, The secret garden, Gulliver's travels, Swiss family Robinson, Snow White and Blood Red, Kidnapped are amongst the forty or so mentioned. Each endpaper lists all these books, and will make a wonderful list to begin thinking about what you would add, or discussing with others what they might have put on the endpaper, or with a class, brainstorming the sorts of books they would like to see there. It is all down to personal experience with books, and many will add a whole range of others they see as classics, and what discussions will be had as a result!
The girl asks the boy to join her as she sails on a sea of words and books, taking him on her voyage of the imagination, climbing mountains, finding treasure in a cave, losing themselves in a forest, escaping monsters, flying to the stars. All it takes is imagination, and books hold the key offering this experience to all.
The stunning illustrations parallel the stories reflected by the text, with mountains or seas of words holding the pair as they have their adventure. Or the cave is made from a rockfall of words while the forest overleaf is full of what seem like trees but are really old fashioned books standing erect. The way Winston has used words to illustrate the text will have readers turning the book every which way to discover which book's lines have been used to create the image. Even the houses on the last four pages turn into a shelf of books. Just wonderful. This will be a treat for anyone who reads it, the text and illustrations are beacons, leading to hours of contemplation and discussion.
Fran Knight