Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book, My Autobiography by John Agard

There is a new trend in Children's literature to call nonfiction books, "informational" books.
Image result for book my autobiography agardWe have recently made that terminology switch in my library.  This book exemplifies why that shift has become popular.  This is an informational book about the history of books.  It it written from the point of view of the book, that is, Book is personified and talking about his history in first person.  "I remember when I was a clay tablet, and scribes wrote on me with a stylus" and that kind of thing. In that respect, it is fictional (because books can't talk, etc), but it does give a lot of information. Book's story covers the whole gamut of history from earliest cave paintings to ebooks.  The narrative is interspersed with quotes and poems.

This is a decent informational book on the topic.  The facts are pretty good and the writing is more entertaining than your average text book.  The one factual over-generalization that bugged me was that they grouped cotton paper and wood pulp paper together as if they were invented at the same general time period.  It said that paper made of plant fibers, both cotton and wood, was invented in the middle ages (or something like that).  Cotton paper was invented in the middle ages, but wood pulp wasn't used for paper until the 1800's.  It was a big deal when wood pulp paper was invented because it made paper way cheaper and easier to produce, but it also caused all that acid paper problem in the 1800's and early 1900's.  This book totally missed all that.

Even with that oversight, it was a pretty good read. Book has a lot of personality and panache.  I expecially liked the conversation between Book and ebook in the last part of the book.  It was pretty funny and reflected the way a lot of old-timer librarians feel about newfangled book formats. (144 p)

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