Grace and style are in abundance in this picture book which would equally appeal to adults as well as children. The reader feels he is holding a lovely treasure in his hands as he turns the beautifully designed pages. This is no computer generated quick mock-up, but instead a carefully thought-out and well-designed picture book where even the lighting has been done perfectly.

The story is set in war time. The “enemy” has bombed and then burned down the local library. Peter’s father cherishes the one book he has left which had not been returned to the library. In the weeks and months ahead, he does all he can to keep the book safe. He would rather give up his blankets when travelling along a war-torn road than give up his book. Eventually he has to leave the book but never forgets it and returns to it when wartime is finished.

Students of picture book illustration or art and design will enjoy finding out more about the illustrative techniques in this book. The technique of using cut-out paper layers, photographing, then adding further layers of paper cut-outs is extremely effective. Some techniques are not as easily explained, such as how the lighting in the book is created. Tattered newspaper leaf cinders fly across a charcoal colored background as the library is burned by the enemy. The endpaper illustrations give the impression that the paper cinders are appearing and disappearing through a smokey haze. Closer inspection reveals words on the smoky cinders. The reader instantly wants to know more.

All in all a very beautiful picture book from a multi-award winning author accompanied by a rising star in the international world of picture book illustrations.

A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.