Sam Winston (text), Oliver Jeffers (illus.) A Child of Books, Walker Books Australia, 1 Sept 2016, 40pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781406358315
Endpapers filled with the titles and authors of literary works indicate to the reader they are in for a treat with this exceptional picture book. The verbal text is told in the first person from a young girl’s perspective as she tells of her travels through her reading. The visuals are simple yet complex. For example, she stands on a log raft with a blank page for a sail, the choppy ocean is made from the text of several titles from the canon of literature, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, to name a few. Although the verbal text of the story on this double page spread amounts to only six words “and upon my imagination I float”, the texts displayed in a vertical formation for the ocean and jumbled letters for the choppy waves add depth and intrigue. A young boy joins her and together they travel through a landscape of stories. Paths, mountains, and caves are molded from the text of the stories from the end pages. The sparse verbal text comes alive with Jeffers’ clever work, integrating many well-known and loved stories. The visual elements executed are original and exceptional. The book as a whole package is one of loveliness. Removing the dust jacket reveals a red, cloth cover with a lock imprinted on the front and the key to unlock this on the back. The relevance of this is revealed on the last double page spread of the picture book with one image, containing the verbal text, strategically placed. This picture book is a must for all libraries. It is also a must for all book lovers and would make a beautiful gift for all ages.
Reviewed by Liz Derouet