Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

 'I am a Child of Books. I come from a world of stories. And upon my imagination, I float.' These are the opening lines of this beautiful picture book, which follows a young girl as she takes a little boy on an adventure by opening his imagination. As they journey along, she teaches him that you don't need to travel the world to have adventures, you can travel anywhere you like with the aid of a book, as books are the key to letting your imagination flow freely.

Its very simple plot is very effective. The story itself is told through very few words. However, the artwork on every page is an explosion of words from a range of children's literature, which are cleverly presented to create the sea, clouds, mountains and monsters.

The written story and the illustrations visually take you on a journey. The passages have been carefully selected to echo each illustration. The sea is created from texts about journeys: The Voyage of Dr Doolittle, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels (which isn't a children's book but Jeffers and Winston can be forgiven for that).

The little girl leads the boy down the path of adventure which is created from the words from Alice's Adveentures in Wonderland. They climb the mountains of Neverland and enter the caves of Kidnapped before playing in the fairy tale woods and extracts from Rapunzel form the rope from the castle. Many of the illustrations use muted colours but interestingly and significantly the house where the little girl lives is bold and bright. The 2 page spread which features the words ' For this is our world we've made from stories.' is the most colourful of the whole book emphasising the bright, colourful world of stories and books.

It is the perfect book to launch a school book week or reading challenge. Pupils in upper key stage 2 could be challenged to identify all the titles featured. (Apparently there are 42 classic books and lullabies in total - I haven't spotted them all yet!).

It  would also be interesting to explore the 'word painting' that is used. Children could find appropriate passages from books they have read  to create their own images of worlds they have encountered and visited through story. Applications such as wordle , tagul and tagxedo would be useful in acheiving this.

In the back slip of the dustcover, Jeffers and Winston state 'From the very beginning we both wanted to create a tale that celebrates our own love of classic children's literature with an added modern twist. For us it was about capturing some of the magic tha happens when you first get lost in a timeless story, but doing it in a way that readers haven't seen before.' They certainly have done that.

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: Sept 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4063-5831-5


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