A Book is a Book

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BORNHOLDT, Jenny (text) Sarah Wilkins (illus.) A Book is a Book Gecko Press/Whitieia Pub, 2013 unpaged NZ$24.99 ISBN 9781877579929

This small format picture book is a quirky pastiche of proverbial sayings about what a book is and possibly is not.  The acknowledgment page suggests that many insights were suggested by children but the author, an established poet, no doubt gives them a fresh perspective as well as other insights.  The illustrations are thought-provoking; often taking the words into a different space.  For example, how would you illustrate the insight ‘Books can be true and not true and sometimes they can be both at the same time’?

This is philosophically quite abstract, suggesting perhaps a post-structuralist take on the real and the represented.  The illustrator seems to suggest this with an image of a young lad, cutting grass stalks and layering them onto a blank page of a book.  Meanwhile a bird flies away with a stalk and at the same time, dropping one.  Is this layered too into the book?  What does this mean?  This is a good example of the art of poetry whereby meaning is not fixed but playfully provocative.  When the real is ‘layered’ into a book (as in the use of words), what is gained and what is lost: what is true and what is represented?  Wow!  This is a book that invites openness rather than closure whereby readers can add perhaps their own take on what a book actually is.  Wonderful!  Highly recommended.  JMcK

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