Anyone who loves books will love this picturebook! Arlo is nestled in the branches of a tree, and opens a book, breathing it in, savouring the anticipation of a beginning where anything is possible. Unfortunately, he drops his book on the Mayor’s head. The Mayor is furious, and says books are dangerous, as they act like seeds, which grow into ideas and then into questions, so he will tell Arlo all he needs to know without the use of books. He destroys all the books in the library and all over the town. Arlo chases one page, but it is swallowed in the muddy earth letter by letter. Without books, storytime in school becomes nap time, the restaurants, without cookbooks, can only serve dry cereal, and no-one can act out plays in the theatre. Arlo sadly scratches ‘The End’ (which he thinks is the worst part of a book) in the dirt- and then has an idea. He starts writing a book, and reading to people passing by, then hears the familiar creak of a spine: a book is sprouting from the buried page. The more Arlo reads, the bigger the plant grows, until it becomes a tree with books as fruit, and more people started to become book gardeners. A ripe book falls on the Mayor‘s head, and he kicks the tree from which it fell, threatening to cut down all the trees, but Arlo says he can’t – they are now a town of stories. The Mayor has a good meal in a restaurant, watches a show in the park and loses himself in a book- and realises that books are the seeds of all these good things in life.
Paul Czajak is the author of a series about Monster and what he thinks he needs, but he has also written Seaver the weaver, about a spider who is not afraid to stand out, and perhaps this is in a similar vein. Not only is this a lovely and positive story by, but the illustrations by Rashin Kheiriyeh are very imaginative, using a mixture of paint in varying textures, and collage. The dandelion clocks are in thick yellow oil paint; the Mayor’s collar is indicated as fur by two wispy spotted feathers, and the books are made out of pieces of pages in many different languages. It is very effective, and there are lots of details to look at and talk about when sharing this book. Even the end papers are covered in open books – this is definitely a book to treasure.