Carnegie Longlist 2016 · Carnegie Nominations 2016

Book by John Agard

It is unusual to find a book that is classed as non-fiction, yet is still able to display the warmth and curiosity of a storybook.  Agard’s Book is, of course, a book that tells the history of the spoken and written word.  Told from the perspective of the embodiment of a book (including both its past and future forms), the story starts with the birth of the first alphabet and ends with the e-book and its potential for future developments.

With its simple layout and inclusion of pictures and quotations throughout, Book provides an accessible and interesting opportunity for young readers to learn about an important story in history.  I certainly learnt a lot about how books came to be, and as a self-professed ‘word nerd’ I found the story fascinating.  Personally, I have always had an interest in the human side of history; how the events of the past has shaped people to become how they are today.  Of course, a book is not a human.  However, Agard’s clever use of the first person narrative allows us, in a funny way, to empathise with the book as he/she tells of what it has been through; it becomes almost autobiographical.

This innovative tale makes for an interesting read, and offers a little something extra to that of your typical novel.  The unique use of an inanimate object’s voice, perhaps unexpectedly, adds an element of humanity to a story that perhaps we thought we already knew.

By Tiff

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