Have you ever suddenly and unexpectedly come across something that at first seems common, but upon investigation, is a treasure? Have you ever walked drearily along in late winter seeing only snow, but there, right in front of you, like a flash in the darkness, is a purple crocus pushing up through the winter’s white mantle? This discovery brings the warmth of hope that thaws the frozen void within.
In the same manner, I discovered a new book! Always on the look-out for children’s picture books for interactive read-alouds, I intently listened to a wonderful Lover of Books share her most glorious finds from the last publishing year. Taking copious amounts of notes on this one or that one, I considered which might be the best choices for our students. Then, this Lover of Books held up a mostly maroon-colored book. It had, on the cover, a book with a key hole on it and a bluish girl sitting upon the book. It was entitled, A Child of Books, by Oliver Jeffers and illustrated by Sam Winston. A bit of it was read aloud, and it didn’t catch my attention. I decided to pass on this book. “Too plain,” I thought to myself
Later, at another session at this conference, the same Lover of Books, share this identical maroon-covered book again! “Wow!” I thought to myself, “She must really like this book.”
At about the same moment, a very literary friend of mine and fellow literacy coach, leaned over and whispered, “I have that book in my office.” Sitting up a bit straighter, I paid closer attention to this second reading of the book.
“Isn’t this cool? All the illustrations are made up of words. Words from different books,” the Lover of Books enthused. My eyes narrowed, squinting, as I tried to see the illustrations better. Then, exploding like a bomb, “I have this book sitting out in my office,” exclaimed the presenter.
“You better pay attention,” I thought to myself, “maybe this book is worth purchasing.” I only had a few moments after the presentation to glance at the book. “Still a little sparse looking…I’ll order it.” With a click of a few buttons on my computer, my decision was final. “It’ll be fun to get a package on my doorstep when I get home. Amazon Prime, I love you!”
After opening the package that indeed was waiting for me when I got home and having time, I really read and studied the book. Each page, starting with the end pages, have wonderful quotes from books,classics, like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Rubinson Crusoe and A Christmas Carol and… the list goes on and on. There are other wonderful quotes from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, ones we all know like “Hush-a-Bye Baby” or “Brahms’ Lullaby” or “Snow White and Red Rose” and “Rapunzel” and…. A smile spread across my face as I read on and on,examining “…Sam Winston’s fascinating typographical landscapes…” (from book jacket). Here is a book that lifts up the worlds that can be imagined on the sea of stories.
And, the best, to me, was the illustration on the last page:
Isn’t this what we want for all people everywhere? To have the key to read and travel through the worlds of books, of stories?
This book will be on display in my office, too.