Saturday, December 9, 2023


By Dan Yaccarino


(Harper, 2016)


This is a simple picture book with a valuable purpose: to help young readers understand the enduring love of stories. Writer and illustrator Dan Yaccarino takes us on a journey of story, through time. It begins with people from the Stone Age, cavemen gathered around a fire, a man speaking with his hands in the air, his audience captivated. There is nothing like a good story.


We access stories 
through various means.

Yaccarino takes his reader through the ages, chronicling the evolution of how stories are told and published, from pictographs to hieroglyphs, from tapestries to printing presses, from stage to hand-held tablets. The book ends in present day, a family sitting around a campfire, another man animated in the story he is telling, his family captivated. Story, Yaccarino asserts, “will live forever.” Isn’t that a lovely Happily Ever After?


Stories will endure.

I don’t love Yaccarino’s illustration style. It’s simplistic, intentionally cartoonish but, in the process, it comes off as cold despite sometimes colorful splashes of background color. The ideas are clearly conveyed, but the drawings don’t draw the viewer in. They’re seen on the surface; the reader can quickly flip to the next page. What I do love is the sweeping passage of time and the message that, despite occasional prognostications of gloom and doom for books (e.g., with the onset of the television era, ebooks and AI technology), story remains, in one form or another. It’s informative for a youngster and both reassuring and empowering for those of us striving to create new stories for people to discover (in whatever form) and enjoy.