A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Child of Books is an inspired collaboration by popular author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers, whose art parents may recognize from The Day the Crayons Quit, and fine artist Sam Winston, new to kids' books. The highly imaginative mixed-media art incorporates text from classic kids' books and takes readers on quite a journey, while the story, in which a girl and boy set out to explore landscapes constructed from type, very directly celebrates the imaginative journey of reading. The book is a magical read-aloud for younger kids, but it can also make a smart gift book for older readers, who may recognize and enjoy the references to children's classics. There's something here for all who love art and literature.
What's the story?
In A CHILD OF BOOKS, a girl sits reading on a raft, carried along on a sea of typed words. A wave deposits her at the home of a boy "to ask if you will come away with me." The two leave a dad reading a newspaper printed with "Important Things" and "Serious Stuff" to travel down a path of words, climb "mountains of make-believe," discover treasure in a cave, and "lose ourselves in forests of fairy tales" where the trees are books sprouting stories. They escape a monster, sleep in clouds, and shout into space, then return home to buildings lined up like books on a shelf, proclaiming, "Our house is a home of invention where anyone at all can come, for imagination is free."
Is it any good?
This visually stunning picture book melding fine art and literature is as much a keepsake book for older kids and a coffee table book for the young set as it is a story celebrating books and reading. One can imagine A Child of Books gaining cult status, with book- and art-loving fifth-graders slipping it out of their backpacks to share with like-minded friends. Author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers teamed up with fine artist Winston, who used printed text from classic children's books to create the settings and backgrounds traveled by the Jeffers-drawn characters. Younger kids can enjoy the story at face value, while older kids familiar with the classics will have fun noting how Winston worked with the texts thematically, using books about ocean journeys -- The Swiss Family Robinson and Kidnapped -- to create the sea and text from Frankenstein to make up his monster.
The endpapers list the numerous classics incorporated, ranging from novels such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Black Beauty to beloved fairy tales. This book may inspire kids to check out the classics and take their own imaginative journeys.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about all the kids' classics referenced in A Child of Books. Have you read any? Which ones?
Which books are referenced in which pictures? Do you think the artist chose those books for those pictures deliberately?
Two artists collaborated on the illustration. Can you tell which artist did what?
- Author: Oliver Jeffers
- Illustrators: Oliver Jeffers, Sam Winston
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Candlewick Press
- Publication date: September 6, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 9
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Hardback
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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