A Child of Books

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
A Child of Books Book Poster Image
Stunning art marks celebration of kids' classic literature.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Many classics of children's literature are referenced in the lines of text incorporated into the art. The endpapers list the many titles and authors. Kids can get excited about and be inspired to read the classics.

Positive Messages

"Imagination is free." You can "lose yourselves" in stories. "We're made from stories." Reading takes you on a magical journey.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The girl narrator loves books and understands that they transport us. She invites the boy to join her, and he willingly goes. The two scale mountains and explore caves, all on a sea of words.

Violence & Scariness
Language

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.

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Adult Written byChildstories July 19, 2018

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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?

Book details

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For kids who love art and classic kids' books

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