Written and illustrated by Stephen Parlato.
October 2009, Simply Read Books
All the things dragons love make them the rare and mystical creatures they are—great spirits and protectors of the natural world, ancient beings in touch with the natural beauty and rhythms of the Earth. Here dragons share the world’s hidden magic with you and reveal what they love most of all.
The world has not always loved dragons, but dragons have always loved the world.
Simply Read Books
Available at local bookstores, and amazon.com
The World That Loved Books
Revised, 2009 edition. Written and illustrated by Stephen Parlato.
Chosen as a finalist by Foreword Magazine for Best Picture Book of The Year Award.
The World That Loved Books is available at your local bookstore and amazon.com
In a world where everyone loves books, people become what they read. When they finish their books they become themselves again, only smarter. This is a picture book conveying a sense of joy and wonder about the natural world. It is illustrated with colorful and intricately detailed collages that invite the reader to spend time studying them closely. It is also a fable about reading books and how often they change us in marvelous and unexpected ways. A story about a world where even the animals love to read.
Signed copies of The World That Loved Books are $16.95 plus $6 shipping and handling. Order by calling 410-945-9244, or by sending a message through the contact form.
Reviews of The World That Loved Books
Barnes & Noble.com
A bizarre and thoroughly enjoyable exercise inspired by the16th-century Italian artist Archimboldo. Archimboldo made faces out of fruits and vegetables; Parlato takes it all one step further. In a world where everyone loved books, “even the animals,” they become what they are currently reading. “A dinosaur reading about frogs and salamanders became frogs & salamanders. He found the book to be very ribbiting.” This kind of sly humor infects the brief text. The pictures are fabulous collages on stark white backgrounds, with the multiplicity of images forming the picture. “A woman reading about angels became choirs of angels” seen in profile, her features composed of dozens of familiar and not so familiar angels from many famous works of art. This is much harder to describe than to see-the dragon reading about treasure is made of jewels, and he is a wonder. While all are inventive, some are wildly wacky-who would have imagined a horse made out of fish? Or a rhinoceros made of butterfly wings? Slightly creepy, but nifty withal. (Picture book. 5-9)
Review by Colleen Mondor
This book has to stand out as one of the more unusual picture books I have come across in a very long time. Artist Stephen Parlato is known for his unique work with collage which culminates in recognizable shapes (faces, animals, etc.) formed of dozens or even hundreds of smaller and equally recognizable other shapes. In The World That Loved Books he takes his art to a truly gorgeous place, giving young readers a world where everyone loved reading so much that they became what they read. A rabbit reading about turtles became turtles, a woman reading about angels became choirs of angels, a dragon reading about treasure became a treasure of gold and diamonds and pearls. The pictures are the true dazzlers here, showing a dragon made of many jewels, a man’s profile of writhing snakes, a tyrannosaurus rex built of frogs and salamanders. Each page give you something even more beautiful to stare at, and makes you even more impressed by Parlato’s amazing talent.
The coolest thing about this book though is that it succeeds on entrancing so many different age levels. The youngest child will enjoy the challenge of finding so many different animals to point out and examine. The story’s fantasy aspect will attract early readers, who are discovering their own fascination with books. But anyone, any age, who appreciates unusual and impressive art will love this book. It perhaps would succeed most of all with the child who exhibits his or her own unique artistic talent. This is a book of the imagination for the reader who wishes to immerse himself in beautiful possibility. And it doesn’t hurt that my two-year old thinks it’s the bomb!
Great American Authors
Once there was a world in which all creatures loved to read so much that a man reading a book about flowers became flowers and a horse reading about snakes and lizards became snakes and lizards. Parlato has created strange and wonderful collage portraits in the manner of 16th century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. This would be a good starter for a unit on collage or portraiture.
Review by Dave Jenkinson
There once was a world where everyone
loved books, even the animals.
Everyone loved to read so much that when
they read their books, they became what
We all read at various times for different reasons. Sometimes we simply want to be entertained by, for instance, a funny story while, at other times, we crave the mental challenge that can be found in solving the crime in a mystery novel before the author’s detective does. Or, we could desire to visit the past via an historical novel, the future in science fiction or an alternate world through fantasy. There are also those times when we get so immersed in our reading that we vicariously “become” part of the story. It is to this vicarious experience that can be found in reading that author/illustrator Parlato speaks in The World That Loved Books.
The first hint that The World That Loved Books is not just the usual picture book can be observed as soon as readers pick up the book. The volume’s hard cover contains a large silhouette cutout of a prancing horse. As the readers’ eyes focus on the backdrop beneath the cutout, they will recognize that the horse’s body consists of books or pages from books. Opening the cover to reveal what lies beneath uncovers a profile collage illustration of a man’s head and neck, both consisting entirely of books or pages from them.
As the review’s opening excerpt indicates, Parlato considers reading to be transformative, and consequently the man who read about flowers becomes flowers, and the rabbit who read about turtles becomes turtles, “his perfect little cottontail now a sea turtle’s flipper.” In all, there are 16 such reading transformations which include a large, ungainly rhinoceros which becomes delicate butterfly wings, a cat that consists of “mice, rats & hamsters” and a dinosaur who became “frogs & salamanders” because “he found the book to be very ribbiting.” Parlato’s occasional bits of humor extend beyond the verbal pun, like the previous “ribbiting,” and can also be visual, such as in the closing illustration where the timorous little mouse is made up of elephants.
Readers, both young and old, could pore over Parlato’s detailed collage illustrations for hours as each viewing seems to reveal something new. Art teachers, even in high school, will want a copy of The World That Loved Books to use as an example of how collages can be created from found print materials, and language arts teachers across the grades will also appreciate the title for its ability to concretize one of the benefits of reading. Everyone, however, needs to heed the verb tense used by the author in the book’s opening sentence and do her/his part to change it.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
Review from AccessMyLibrary.com
by Antonia Gisler
Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
“Wow” is the first word that popped out my mouth, when I saw the attractive and imaginative cover of this book. The front cover consists of a cut out shape of a horse and a background comprised of a collage of books. This book is worthy of being judged by its cover, since with each turn of the page the reader will be amazed! All of the illustrations are in a collage format.
The basic premise of the story is that people and animals love to read so much that they soon become what they read. For example, “A cat reading about mice, rats and hamsters soon had many TALES to tell”. The corresponding illustration is the shape of a cat filled in with a collage of pictures of mice, rats and hamsters. The writing style is simple and along with the illustrations, readers will immerse themselves in the story and let their imagination run wild.
Children (and adult readers) will delight in spending time looking over the illustrations and discovering the many figures used in the collages. This book is a piece of art but will appeal to all.
Review from Straight.com Vancouver
Forget Snot Jokes, Here Be Kids’ Magic
There are any number of reasons for adults to read children’s books, and the presence of children has never necessarily been one of them, to my mind. Admittedly, grown-ups might want to pick their time and place (toddler hour at the library is perhaps a poor setting to read kids’ books without kids), but then anything worth doing requires a little forethought.
Picture books–really good picture books, I mean, of which we produce a shockingly tiny number each season among all the sappy goo and the too-double-entendre-by-half adult pleasers and the moralizing Psalters and the TV tie-ins–can be a sensual delight. Immerse yourself in a first-rate storybook’s electrifying art and inventive design and forget the pablum of shelter mags. Teen writing, especially as publishers move away from the fad of recent years for issue-oriented dramas and inappropriately grisly kitchen-sink reportage, can be equally satisfying. I’ll take the shivers of a good Janet McNaughton or Kenneth Oppel novel–his just-out Airborn is terrific–over John Grisham or Patricia Cornwell anytime. (I won’t try to argue the merits of the middle-reader chapter books here; there are some, but you pretty much have to love either snot jokes or horses. Or, worse, horse-snot jokes.)
Chief among kids’-book assets, though, is their belief in the power of transformation. What else is childhood, anyway, but a metamorphosis? Whether it’s Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (“And how small she had grown–and how brown–and covered with Prickles!”) or Harry Potter, characters are free to change, and change dramatically, to a degree their adult counterparts do not. In our embrace of realism, we have forgotten the rush of an imagination let loose to gallop.
This is why The World That Loved Books (Simply Read Books, $22.95) is so delicious. Even the book’s cover speaks to the allure of sudden and magical change. And speaking of galloping, that’s a horse’s silhouette cut out of the front board. Through this equine window we see a multicoloured body; but turn the cover and its frontispiece is revealed to be decorated with not a horse but the profile of a man built out of a pastiche of book jackets. Each of Stephen Parlato’s 15 double-page spreads glories in the full-colour impossibility of something being something else: a man’s head comprising dozens of snakes, his “ear” actually an open jaw; a leaping rabbit with a many-turtled body and a sea-turtle butt; a weighty rhinoceros filled with the flutter of butterflies.
The text is slight–“A woman reading about angels became choirs of angels”, reads one spread–which is a pity because the text doesn’t hold the viewer’s ear long enough to let the images deconstruct themselves, and also because the book is a testament to the magic of reading but doesn’t itself deliver. This is the challenge for Simply Read Books, based in Vancouver and one of the most interesting children’s publishers anywhere. The books themselves are always handsome and the artwork gorgeous, but the stories are frequently weak in comparison.
All Things Great & Small – 2007 Calendar
Calendar: 24 pages
Publisher: Simply Read Books (November 16, 2006)
Available at amazon.com
Includes some of the most beautiful art from Parlato’s acclaimed book, The World That Loved Books, along with several new pieces, to immerse children in the imaginative world of books. Available from amazon.com.
Signed posters are $15 each (plus $6 shipping and handling). Order by calling 410-945-9244, or through the contact form.
Books Dragon Poster
24 x 18
Flag Horse Poster
27-1/2″ x 19-1/4″
Jeweled Dragon Poster
27-1/2″ x 19-1/4″
Mermaids Horse Poster
27-1/2″ x 23-1/2″