I’m taking a short side trip off of Deckawoo Drive to tell you about a brand new book I just got in at school. Book my biography was transcribed by John Agard and illustrated by Neil Packer.
My name is Book and I’ll tell you the story of my life.
This story begins with the earliest form of storytelling, the spoken recitations of our ancestors around campfires. Book tells us,
Before Book, there was Breath.
Book goes on to explain all of his ancestors, such as cave paintings and cuneiform on clay tablets. He explores the birth of letters from hieroglyphics and how they have been changed and reworked to fit the sounds they represent.
Book explains how he moved from clay tablets to papyrus to parchment and vellum and eventually to paper. He explores the words we use to describe books, here is one of my favorite passages:
He explains the transition from scroll to codex, and from codex to hardback. He talks about the handwritten illuminated copies of books made by monks and scribes, and on to the introduction of movable type and steam powered printers.
Book tells us of good times and bad. He doesn’t shy away from telling the reader about the terrible book burnings that have sadly repeated throughout history.
Wherever there is Book, there you will find the shadow of burning.
Book even talks about the newest evolution in the written word: eBooks. He gives them the credit they are due, but he makes sure to point out that you can’t smell an eBook, you can’t dog-ear a page, you can’t flip through the pages, not in the sense that you can with a piece of print.
From blank spaces, in soulless places, I will blossom into Book, scattering my seeds across the shelves of the imagination.
I really enjoyed this book! I use the masculine pronouns to describe it, but only because it was transcribed by a man. Neil Packer’s illustrations have the quality and texture of old woodcuts, and fit so perfectly. I like that Book (and Agard) credit cultures from all over the world with the inventions that added to the modern printed Book. Sometimes we teach a west-centric history that gives all the credit to Gutenberg when truly he shares it with Korean and Chinese inventors. There are other examples within the book as well.
I am a certified bibliophile, possibly a bibliomaniac, and I soaked up every bit of knowledge that this book could offer to me about someone I consider a lifelong friend. The material is very middle grade friendly but interesting to adults too. Get ready to learn more about the life of a book than you ever realized there could be!
Book leaves us with a final dedication:
Bibliophiles for collecting me
Bookbinders for binding me
Booksellers for selling me
Designers for designing me
Editors for editing me
Illustrators for illustrating me
Librarians for lending me
Printers for printing me
Readers for reading me
Reviewers for reviewing me
(favorably or not)
Translators for translating me
Writers for writing me