The Boy & the Book
David Michael Slater, author
David Michael Slater is sorry to say that books were harmed in the making of this story. Please do not call the Book Police, as he is the loving author of sixteen picture books, including The Bored Book and Cheese Louise! He is also the author of the Sacred Books series for teens, as well as a novel for adults. David teaches middle-schoolers to love words in Reno, Nevada, where he reads with his wife and son.
Read more about David.
Bob Kolar, illustrator
Bob Kolar grew up in fear of messing up a book—probably because the library in his small town was in an old bank building and the children’s books were kept in the vault. Bob now lives with his family in Kansas City, Missouri, where he is an art teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute. He has written and illustrated many picture books, including the Astroblast! Series (now an animated show on the Sprout network).
Read more about Bob.
- Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A nearly wordless picture book presents the "I can read" moment.
A small boy with a determined, mischievous expression enters a library in the company of his mother. The look on the boy's face, perfectly rendered by Kolar (as are all the expressions), alarms the library books, and they run for their lives. The boy captures a blue-bound book and begins manhandling it as he would any toy, in the process ripping and creasing the pages. The other books look on, horrified. The boy's mother (who, unsettlingly, seems to care not a whit that the boy has mistreated a book) comes to get him. He tosses the book to the floor as he leaves. The other books lovingly glue and tape the battered book back together. A new day, and-horrors!-the boy returns. Again, the books scatter. But then the blue-bound book sees the boy's forlorn expression and suddenly understands. The book leaps from its safe perch to the boy, the boy opens the book, and it is here that the four words of text make their powerful statement-"Once upon a time." For the boy has learned to read, and now books are cherished and library manners learned.
Presented as a grand adventure, the moment when a child first learns to read is powerfully rendered in this well-made story.
Slater's (The Bored Book) wordless story seems headed toward a lesson about mistreating library books, but the lesson turns out to be one of surprising compassion. The book abuser is a young library visitor with a mop of black hair who grabs a blue book while the others flee (all of the books have expressive faces and sticklike appendages). A question mark above the boy's head as he opens the book signals his non-reader status. Instead, he holds it upside down, rips it, tosses it, and folds the pages, accompanied by anguished looks from the book itself. On a return visit, the book's efforts to avoid the boy are futile, and he strikes again. But then something wonderful happens: the boy learns to read, and he and the book are reconciled. Kolar's (Stomp, Stomp!) digitally made figures are crisp and flat, and the expressions on the books' faces do their comic work effectively. Library champions don't usually tolerate the ill-treatment of books, but sometimes, Slater implies, what looks like bad behavior is just boundless eagerness.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-755-2 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-710-1 PDF
Page count: 32