Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Anna the Bookbinder

Anna the Bookbinder

Andrea Cheng
Illustrator:  Ted Rand 
For ages 5 to 8
Walker Books, 2003   ISBN: 978-0802788313

Anna’s father is a bookbinder and there is nothing she likes more than to help him and keep him company in his workshop. It is a difficult time at the moment for many people want their books bound fast and are taking their business elsewhere, to bigger companies where the work is done quickly, though not necessarily well. Mr. Levinson has given Papa a binding job which Papa has to get done in three days or the client will take his books to someone else. So, it is a busy time. It is also an anxious time for they are all waiting for Anna’s new baby brother or sister to arrive. Anna, her Papa, and her Mama are calling the baby "tortoise" because it is slow just like the tortoise in the story by Aesop.

Then, on the last night before Mr. Levinson’s books are due to be done, the baby decides that it is time to come after all. Anna’s Papa asks Anna to finish pressing a book for him and when she sees Mr. Levinson’s three books waiting to be stitched, Anna decides to finish them as well. Can she do it as well as Papa though and will he be angry with her efforts.

This wonderful picture book about a small family business and a girl’s love for stories is perfectly paced and beautifully illustrated. It gives the reader a sense of what it would have been like to work in a small shop many years ago when books were still bound by hand and when pride in one’s work came before speed and money. Anna is given a gift she will never forget and the reader is reminded that books are treasures which give us great pleasure and which we should never take for granted.