As with Thompson's Ruby (1994), this book may have more appeal for
literate, pun-loving picture-book collectors than for children, but
there are few readers who won't come away impressed with the sheer
detail of the illustrations. The book's premise involves a library
that is filled with life each night, as the books become small
cities and neighborhoods housing small people. A young boy, Peter,
and his eat, Brian, leave their home in a cookbook called Quinces
to undertake a very long search for a long-missing book entitled
How to Live Forever. Finally he comes across two old men who lead
him to "the Ancient Child. He was both young and old, ten and
timeless at the same time." The Child cautions Peter not to read
the book, and, after lengthy contemplation, Peter takes that
advice. The Ancient Child approves of Peter's wisdom and leads him
back to "the world." The library is full of overstocked shelves and
books bearing oddly familiar titles: A Tale of Two Sitars, On the
Toad, Withering Tights. Children may not grow wiser for reading
this book, but they will have their eyes filled - and thoughts
provoked - on every page of amusing details and visual pranks.
Colin Thompson's books are mystical and complex, they will appeal to children and adults alike and demand to be returned to as there is always a new image to see ... something more to catch the eye. Peter and his family live among the Quinces in the cookery section of a mystical library, and at night, when the library comes to life, Peter ventures out of his home to find a missing volume: How To Live Forever
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