‘I am a child of books. I come from a world of stores. And upon my imagination, I float.’
– Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, A Child of Books
This review is a special one for me; I don’t usually review picture books but this one is an exception… I have been waiting months for this book to come out and I am lost for words… almost! I don’t think I have been so moved by a book in a very long time. I have always loved Oliver Jeffers’ books but this one is extraordinary. I keep tearing up… it has literally spoken to my soul. My not-so-inner-child is extremely happy right now!
Let’s start at the very beginning! The cover evokes a sense of adventure, that something special is about to begin. There is a little girl – the Child of Books – sitting on top of a book with a key hole on the front of it. The book’s shadow – very cleverly – is compiled of the first lines of some very famous children’s stories. When you remove the jacket (which as a side note you should always do to see if there is a beautiful design underneath), the reader is treated to a red, cloth bound book with gold lettering… exactly like the one the little girl is sitting on! Those two things on their own is enough to make me swoon… and then you open the cover and the story begins…
A Child of Books is an exploration of imagination and the magic of books. It is a love story written to inspire children (of all ages) to find their own narrative and create their own story. We meet the young girl, who floats upon her imagination. She sails towards a boy whom she encourages to sail across a sea of words with her – through the words of children’s literature – to ‘travel over mountains of make-believe’, ‘discover treasure in the darkness’, ‘lose [themselves] in forests of fairy tales’ and ‘sleep in clouds of song’. The girl is a creation, grown from many voices. She knows the way through the world of imagination and offers a hand to the boy, who represents a child not yet bitten by the book bug.
Oliver Jeffers has been one of my favourite children’s storytellers since I came across Lost and Found many years ago. His stories are profound yet subtle and always delightful. They have dealt with some quite serious themes yet always told with tenderness and care. His stories are beautiful and poignant. A Child of Books is told in Jeffers’ trademark style however when combined with the typographic landscapes – by the brilliant Sam Winston – it becomes something else. Winston’s illustrations and use of typography are exciting and fun. His landscapes are built from excerpts of stories and lullabies and together with the story, they pay homage to the history of children’s literature and the power of imagination. ‘For this is our world, we’ve made from stories…’ and for me, this is a place of wonder and pure joy. A Child of Books is quite possibly my favourite picture book… ever. I cannot encourage you enough to find a copy, sit in a quiet corner and enjoy what I think is something very, very special.
AUTHOR: Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
PUBLISHER: Walker Books Australia
PUB DATE: 1 September 2016
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!