FICTION

The Story of AND: The Little Word That Changed the World

Flyaway Books. Apr. 2019. 40p. Tr $18. ISBN 9781947888050.
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PreS-Gr 1– A little girl who loves to count the instances of the word AND in everything she reads is ridiculed by the adults around her until she reads aloud a particularly convincing story about the word. The story she reads is “The Story of AND,” an original song by Carrie Newcomer. In each verse and scenario, the word AND entreats two things to come together and build something that is greater than their disparate parts. A cranky triangle and square become a house and then a neighborhood, an octagon and cylinder create a table. The story then returns to the young girl holding hands with her family and AND. The song is available for free download from the Flyaway Books website and follows the text of the story nearly word for word, set to lovely acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals. In the book, these verses are translated into bright, colorful, and sometimes incredibly literal illustrations. Ultimately the simple lyrics are unable to convey such an abstract concept, and the inclusion of shapes as characters only confuses things further. Some verses lend themselves more easily to the metaphor of unity. It is easy, say, to draw a line from a line and oval forming a music note that in turn is part of a melody. But the meaning is lost in a verse that describes rectangles and triangles forming seesaws and then many seesaws making a playground. 
VERDICT The message of recognizing our differences and working together is a noble and excellent concept for a book, but unfortunately this story tries to do too much and misses its mark. Purchase only where music/book combinations are particularly popular.

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