My review of “BOOK” by John Agard

Book JA

“My name is Book and I’ll tell you the story of my life.”

Book finally gets to be the main character in its own autobiography, and has the chance to chart its lifetime, from oral storytelling through to the digital age.

Aimed at readers aged 9+ the story frequently makes links to the modern world, such as scrolls and scrolling down a computer screen, and quills and Harry Potter, which makes it extremely accessible to young readers.

Broken into short,snappy sections, the text is punctuated by inspirational quotes, poems (including one by Grace Nichols) and extracts from literature. The poetically crafted text is beautifully illustrated by Neil Packer, and includes some great diagrams to bring the non-fiction aspects to life. The chosen texts come from all over the world and different time periods, reflecting the global phenomenon that literature has become.

“Book” reflects on the lows of our world history, as well as celebrating the effect that literacy and story has had on the human race. For example, we have Bertolt Brecht’s “The Burning of the Books”, and an extract from the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a slave from the 18th century.

As in any life story, the timeline leads to wonderful anecdotes. These bring the numerous facts to life in a bright and breezy way. I was amazed at how many cool facts I had learned by the end of this quick-to-read book. Do you know where the word “blurb” originated from? Do you know how parchment was made? Do you know how long public libraries have been around? So many of these fascinating facts are sneakily tucked into the stories, that you forget that this book is actually giving you a lot of information. The friendly chit-chat style of “Book”, with its cosy feel, reminded me of having a conversation with a beloved older family member as they reminisce about days gone by.

This is an upbeat, entertaining book, which races through Book’s history, leaving you with a satisfying smugness of having learnt so much. It’s a great book to dip into too, just to flick through the quotes and excerpts.

I hope every classroom and library will find space for it on their shelves, as it’s a real gem!

Thankyou to Walker books for allowing me to review this.

Book due out 2nd October 2014.

RRP £12.99* (Hardback) Also available as ePub.

* Have seen it cheaper (around £9.50) online!

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