Thursday, February 16, 2023

One & Everything

Gr 2-5-At first glance, readers may assume this is an art book with lots of circles and patterns. Once they begin reading, they will see it is the story of how languages can be subsumed by others. The One gobbles up each story that it encounters and is proud to be the only story left. The letters on the One's surface reflect its thoughts, such as "I am the one" or "I am always right." But words are powerful things, and even in the darkness inside the One, the other letters combine to question the One's supremacy. The illustrations use simple circles for the various stories; each has its own color and a pattern created from a particular writing system. Cherokee, Javanese, and Tamil are just a few of the scripts used. Back matter includes descriptions of 10 of the scripts, with details on what the symbols mean and what language(s) they represent. A map shows where the fifty different scripts in the book come from, and there is a labeled sample of each script. The acknowledgments mention many groups and organizations around the world who are working to preserve languages in danger of being lost. VERDICT A story that works on many levels for various ages, from a simple fable about greed to a wake-up call to value linguistic diversity.

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal.

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