I deliberately resisted all temptation to seek out sneak peeks of A Child of Books, and even stopped short of looking at the internals in bookshops before my review copy arrived. I wanted it to be special. A long overdue moment of bliss between me and the book--between me and the creators--picture book legend Oliver Jeffers and typographic fine artist Sam Winston.
Well. Was the wait worth it?
I think 'yes' would be too simple an answer.
A Child of Books is indeed as visually lovely as I had anticipated--featuring a glorious and elegantly restrained use of photographed items, hand-drawn imagery, white space and typography, which oftentimes forms such things as surging oceans, stars in the night sky, and the dark side of mountain peaks.
What I didn't expect was for the narrative to be so lyrical, so gentle and enchanting. I also didn't expect it to gather up that deeply-personal, warmly golden feeling so many of us feel when we think back to our childhood and the books we fell into--whether for entertainment or for comfort. Anne of Green Gables. The Wishing Chair. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
A Child of Books celebrates this childhood enchantment in a simple narrative that's deceptively complex--and allows us to really 'see' the imagination and how lost it becomes as we age; how forgotten.
As we follow a girl and a boy through a sea and over mountains of words, through a water-logged cave to find buried treasure, and on to a game of hide-and-seek in a forest made from the edges of books, we are swept up into the emotion that grips (and holds onto) the hand of great storytelling.
Not only is this book a joy in itself, its magic also lies in its ability to inspire those who travel its pages to reach out and pluck up another book--whether something new and shiny or something old and familiar.
And that, dear readers, is why I say yes. The wait was worth it.
Enjoy this book trailer, and get set to be swept away.
Title: A Child of Books
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Publisher: Walker Books, $27.99
Publication Date: 1 September 2016
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book