Friday, December 11, 2009


Gerstein, M.  (2009).  A Book.  New York:  Roaring Brook Press.


30-Second Summary:  When A Book is opened, the characters awaken and go about their day, committed to their own stories.  But, for the little girl in the family, she has yet to determine what her story is.

I LOVE the concept for this book.  It answers the question of what happens to characters when a book isn't being read.  (As a child I had similar questions about movies that weren't being played.  I thought miniature versions of characters flew and wandered around the inside of a VCR.  Err, Blue Ray player.  Laserdisc.  Did I just date myself?)

The book is a good example of literature that draws attention to how a story is composed and takes into consideration the reader as well.  At one point the protagonist has a discussion with a large goose who says, "Readers like a good story, else they close the book, you know."  The girl asks, "What are...readers?"  "Look up." says the goose.  Heeheehee.  I love meta-narratives!  A Book also includes a bit of information about genre rules and includes intertextuality to a number of fairy tales and classic works of literature as well.  This is kinda like a new approach to David Wiesner's The Three Pigs.

I have to admit though, I wasn't as fond of the illustrations.  They're...fine.  Cute.  Blah-ish.  They are all positioned from the perspective of the reader looking down upon the characters.  Now, this is initially awesome, reinforcing the idea that the reader is looking in, peeking down upon the book.  But it got kinda old as the story went on.

But don't let that fool you, after finishing reading the library copy, I've ordered my own copy of the book from Amazon.  Oh, Amazon.  You have all of my monies.


A Book is an awesome story to discuss how to create a book or story with students.  It explores the way each character needs their own story.  A teacher could also go into the fact how each student in the class also has their own unique perspective and story to tell.  We can all be our own protagonists or heroes.

Since so much of picturebook is written in dialogue, it would be difficult to use A Book as a straight-up teacher read aloud.  A teacher could, however, assign different roles to each student and they could act out the book very easily.  But since there's also narration, a teacher could discuss the presence of the narrator as well, assigning a student that role too.

A teacher could also use A Book to focus on the need for writers to create interest in the story for readers, to have a hook.

Quotes of Note:

"Once, in a book by Mordical Gerstein, published by Roaring Brook Press, New York, there lived a family of characters."

"When the book was closed it was night in the book, and the family slept."

"I know we live in a book, but what is our story?"

"Everyone has a story but me.  What's my story!"  And off went the girl to the next page."

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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