Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Memoirs, Biographies, and Constructed Narratives Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Of Rags and Bones, Soot and Seeds Bound in Leather: The Art And Science Of Book-Making

"From The Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed The World" by James Rumford.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

What is it that is made of rags and bones, soot and seeds, bound in leather? This picturebook biography will tell you.

From The Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed The World

Written and Illustrated by James Rumford
Published by Flash Point (2012)
ISBN-10: 1596435429
ISBN-13: 9781596435421
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have always been fascinated by all things books: from the seeds of the idea to the actual process of book-making to the marketing and distribution until it finally reaches a reader’s hands, enjoyed and relished for everything it contains.

This picturebook biography of Johannes Gutenberg who “changed the world” extends the discourse even further through a series of riddles that capture the painstaking effort and the enormous amount of time, energy, and resource it took to create that which we hold in our hands: the printed book.

Through a medieval-inspired narrative layout, the reader is transported back to the 15th century when rags and bones are needed to create paper, and soot and seeds become the ink to mark those precious pages.

It boggles the mind how the printing press was first created – each of the letter facing backward, with expensive coloured powders, and a gold leaf – the entire thing operated by a machine “as strong as a giant.”

Times have indeed changed from when Gutenberg assembled rags, bones, soot, seeds, sprinkled with gold leaf to make a book. It’s no wonder that books were considered very precious commodities during this time, with only the very wealthy and influential people who can afford them.

The detailed Epilogue at the end of the book provides even more context and background information about Johannes Gutenberg and the things of beauty that he created during this period. I was also able to find this Youtube video that demonstrates the entire painstaking process of book-making. Enjoy!

#LitWorld2018GB Update: Johannes Gutenberg is from Germany.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Of Rags and Bones, Soot and Seeds Bound in Leather: The Art And Science Of Book-Making

  1. It’s a new book to me, Myra, so thanks for that & for the video. I can’t imagine the painstaking labor of setting type-amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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