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Friday, January 13, 2017

I Am A Story, written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Harper, 2016. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"I was written on papyrus

and printed with ink and

then woven into

and copied into big books
to illuminate minds."

I have pored over this seemingly simple story many times, and each time I see or think about something that I am not sure I saw in previous readings. Each beautifully designed spread has one line of text, offering a look at the part that stories have always played in our lives.

They have been shared, protected, and saved throughout history and continue to play a significant role. Whether in words or pictures, on cave walls or special stock, stories bring people together to share them and to wonder at the power they have to move and inform us. Stories are kept alive in countries throughout the world using great variety in medium, and voice. We read them at the library, in our homes and schools and we watch them on television, at the theater or on our computer screens.

Dan Yaccarino uses India ink on vellum to create his powerful and telling images for a tale that begins with a caveman and his son looking at the night sky, followed by storytelling to a kindred group gathered around the campfire and seeing all the signs of the zodiac in that same sky. He then shows the many way that stories have been shared from one age to the next - on walls, stone tablets, papyrus, woodblocks, tapestries, books and iPads.

There is so much history and culture within its pages. It is sure to inspire careful thought and discussion. Watch for the little red bird to make its appearance on most pages, and also for the contemporary family sharing a story around their own campfire under a sky lit by the constellations we know as the same zodiac signs from the opening. Bravo!

What an invitation this is to surround ourselves with the stories we love - and to keep on reading!

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