The Story of a Book

Atheneum. Aug. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665903851.
Gr 1-3–A brand new library book, with “fresh ink on crisp pages,” makes its way from reader to reader, working its magic along the way. Settings meander from a library to a hospital room to a tree house, where the children reading the book find that the magic can “transport you to a brighter place,” is “sweeter when you share it,” and is “more powerful when you choose it [the book] yourself.” Every librarian will recognize the tattered, much-loved book, (though not many will see themselves hand stamping the book with a due date, as the librarian in this story does). The original book eventually ends up at the library book sale, where a father and child pick it up to repurpose it into art, thus completing the cycle. The message is clear—when a book finds its reader, magic can happen. Children will find much to engage them in the gorgeous gouache and colored pencil illustrations, with dreamy pink and orange trees, yellow houses, and floaty spirals and swirly symbols flowing out of the book indicating the “magic.” The cast of characters is a lively mix of ethnic backgrounds. Background images include one child with a walker, and another using a wheelchair.
VERDICT Despite the rich visuals and the lovely message, however, the text lacks a clear narrative structure and somehow doesn’t quite come together as a coherent whole.

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