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[IYL Finds | Monday Reading] An Ode to Make-Believe Books That Have Yet to Be Written


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.


I’m back to sharing books that I’ve read for Monday reading! Hooray! It’s been a crazy time for me recently, especially with the marking blues in the university. And yes, I just came back from Oman after conducting a 3-day teacher training workshop which was a lot of fun.

I even got to talk a little about GatheringBooks and recommended a few titles, at that, which was really cool.

So, these two books that I am sharing here celebrate the gift of imagination as they feature ideas that have not yet been actualized into a real book. Think of an imaginary library filled with books that have not been written yet – these two titles gathered together those fantastical imaginings into a real honest-to-goodness book.

img_8289The Da Vinci Cod and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books

Written and Illustrated byChris Riddell
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2005 ISBN: 0763630535 (ISBN13: 9780763630539)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me. 

I found this book by accident while browsing through our children’s lit collection at my institution’s library. The book cover alone made me laugh out loud – and the very idea of “unwritten books” is simply too compelling. Add the fact that I just bought the book below (The Fish, The Piano and the Wind) from the International Youth Library – I thought they would go together for our current reading theme.

According to Chris Riddell in his trademark sardonic humour:

There are many shelves in the library of unwritten books, all of them empty. Although this is a drawback for the dedicated reader, it is a positive godsend for the enterprising artist, as the number of unwritten books is literally infinite and all of them require illustrations.


As the books are unwritten, there are no complicated passages to wade through, no implausible plot twists, no disappointing endings. They take up no space, never get dog-eared, never smell like moldy underwear, and are very reasonably priced.

Very true indeed. Hence, the reader finds in each of the pages a parody of well-loved classics or popular titles – with a certain twist that invites an imaginative author to write a story to accompany it.

More than anything, it is really the visual wit and humour that made me laugh out loud as I flipped through this brilliantly conceived collection of unwritten books, just waiting for a hapless author to write their stories. One of my favourites is the one below (I can imagine Salman Rushdie’s reaction to The Satanic Nurses):


The Fish, The Piano and the Wind: An Imaginary img_8268Library (Der Fisch, Das Klavier und Der Wind: Eine imaginäre Bibliothek)

Edited by: Barbara Scharioth and the International Youth Library
Published by: Carlsen Verlag, 2009 ISBN:9783551517
Found and bought at the International Youth Library in Munich. Book photos taken by me. 

When I saw this book at the International Youth Library, I knew I had to have it. This was my first purchase while I was in Europe during the summer – and such a perfect read it is. In the Foreword written by Barbara Scharioth who conceptualized this collection, she was searching for a “fantastical book well” but couldn’t find any:

An imaginary library of books that exist only in the mind, as concepts, sketched ideas – is this feasible? I began telling friends, authors, illustrators, publishers and other “book people” about this notion. It soon became clear that they do exist, these totally fictitious books. They are every bit as real as dreams, memories, Utopian fantasies.


So could it be possible to assemble a small fictitious collection of contemporary “book dreams”? 

This wondering notion is what gave birth to this awe-inspiring book with contributions from 74 artists coming from various parts of the globe including Argentina, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Poland, Mongolia, Slovenia, South Korea, Uruguay, Russia, Slovakia – just to cite a few. Similar to Riddell’s concept above, each full-spread page contains the seeds of an idea for books that have yet to be written – including a short synopsis, a title, the publisher, and the book cover. While there is a contribution for a book that has already been published (Hua Mulan by Gao Cai – who by the way we have featured as well for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content – and is a contributor to my edited book published this year – shameless plug), there is a diverse range of ideas from the strange, surreal, to the otherworldly.

In keeping with our current reading theme, I took photos of the fantastical ones with mermaids and ogres:


From Piet Grobler (South Africa): Eight Hundred and Eighty Eight Billion Tears.


This one is also a personal favourite: The Fisherman’s Dream by Klaas Verplancke from Belgium.

The fisherman of this story doesn’t catch fish but people’s invisible emotions, evanescent dreams and secret thoughts. The white spaces between words and sentences is the best place to catch them. In the evening, when the fisherman comes home, he tries to turn his catch into images and stories.

Now this kind of book, I will definitely read. Here are a few of my other favourites:

Make sure that you get a copy of this book when you visit Munich!

5 comments on “[IYL Finds | Monday Reading] An Ode to Make-Believe Books That Have Yet to Be Written

  1. Now, for these, I’d love to be back in the classroom, sharing with my middle school students who would adore both. They would make great mentor texts for a number of things. Thanks, Myra, great fits for your theme!


  2. The DaVinci Cod looks hysterical – Perfect for young adult readers


  3. I have to find my own copy of The Da Vinci Cod, Myra – just too funny not to have around!


  4. crbrunelle

    These are so hilarious! Thanks.


  5. This whole post was cool! What a neat experience you had, and those books are something else! I definitely want to see them in person.

    Happy reading this week 🙂


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