This Is a Story
“an invitation to the world of books: words on a page, pages in a book, and books on a shelf in a library waiting to be discovered, picked up, and read.”
As the song goes, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. . . . These are a few of my favorite things.” Switch out these lyrics, moving away from cuteness and toward all things curious, and you’ll find John Schu’s favorite things: kids, books, schools, libraries, and librarians —and what connects them. And that’s what he writes about. In his follow up to This Is a School, Schu presents This Is a Story—a delightful homage to the power of story, particularly those moments when that certain book lands in the hands of that certain child, when those sparks of connection lead to that sense of wonder and a desire to know more.
Told in sparse text, deceptively simple, actually, Schu begins his book with, “This is a word.” And what follows is an invitation to the world of books: words on a page, pages in a book, and books on a shelf in a library waiting to be discovered, picked up, and read. Next, Schu points to the world of humans who read the books. He notes, however, “sometimes humans need help connecting” (to the books and to each other). That’s where libraries and librarians play a vital role: helping to find just the right book for that special child.
The connection between a book and a reader that is at the heart of This Is a Story. As a classroom teacher, a school librarian, and the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fair, Schu knows the importance of this book-reader connection. According to Schu, it is this connection that triggers even more questions in the minds of curious child readers and inspires hope, exploration, and imagination. It is this connection that also “endlessly” grows hearts in each young reader, emphasizing the expansive impact books can have on the emotional life of a child.
Using ink, watercolor, and pastel, Caldecott Honor-recipient Lauren Castillo creates a soft, warm feeling with each illustration. Like a cozy corner of the library with a favorite book. Her images are adorable and immediately engage that child sensibility. And choosing a city public library tucked in the middle of a diverse neighborhood is the perfect setting to tell this story, a story relatable to all kids. That Castillo features Mr. Schu as the librarian in this story, adds a lovely personal note to what is clearly a beautiful author/illustrator collaboration.
As this story comes to a close, Schu reminds the reader that libraries are “our world of reading.” Libraries house books, meant to be read one-by-one, “It starts small, but it shows us where to begin.” This Is a Story ends as it begins, with a simple but powerful message of engagement and connection: “This is a story. And it helps us to understand . . . everything!”