Illustrated by Sam Winston
For ages 5+
Have you come across Walker Studio books before? If not - they're an imprint within the Walker Group whose focus is on publishing high-quality kids books that excel in both design and concept. I always keep an eye on their publishing schedule, and I had a gut instinct a couple of months ago that 'One & Everything' by Sam Winston was not one to be missed.
On preparing for the book club I became absolutely entranced by Winston's art blending with typography - formulating story bubbles of scripts from English through to Egyptian hieroglyphs to Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics to the ancient Irish language of Ogham. Altogether Winston incorporates fifty scripts! I knew this was going to be fun and informative!
Before showing the children the book, I asked them to put their hands up if they can speak more than one language. Lots of hands shot up with many of the children feeling exceedingly proud of the few words of French that they have learned so far at school, one child knew a few numbers in Spanish, however, I was delighted to discover one child also speaks the Indian language of Malayalam.
On pulling the book out of my bag, the children (rather distracted this morning by the excitement over discovering who they are to be playing in the Nativity!), were immediately curious - this book doesn't look like most picture books. I started the story... the children gathered round, closer and closer until it was a veritable scrum as they were obsessed with trying to read Winston's words in the amoeba-esq bubbles. They also wanted to touch each page as I read it, amazed to discover that the artwork was smooth and flat each time. The adrenaline really started to kick in when they realised as the story progressed the words changed and there was hot competition as to who was going to work the words and phrases out first!
It was time to reset the room... back on your cushions kids, thank you...
As the 'One', the story began to consume all the other smaller, colourful and ancient script stories, it got bigger and bigger until one day there was merely darkness, all colour and diversity had been gobbled up into One's belly! One has decided it is the best!
Only when a brave little story speaks from inside the One that it can then realise that all is not lost and that actually, One doesn't need to have replaced all the stories by eating them all up, but they are still all inside it. One is every story and then like a Big Bang explodes into a whole new universe of colourful scripts filled with light. By this point the room was very quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. Perfect.
At the end of the book, Winston provides an 'Author's Note' where he discusses the journey of languages over time as a mode of human expression and diversity. He then provides a breakdown (see below) of some of the scripts found in the book's illustrations and provides a fascinating synopsis of each one, including preservation. Over the page, Winston has included a world map with a colourful key to the location of each of the fifty scripts featured in 'One & Everything' with an important caveat for readers that an alphabet is not a language and "of the seven thousand world languages, the majority don't have a unique written alphabet". Samples of each of the scripts are featured on the final double spread.
'One & Everything' is a beautiful, tactile, educational, inspiring and perfect for curious minds.
“When making picture books you learn, in part, how to tell the story through colour and tone. Contrast is a beautiful way to explain things beyond what one colour alone can say. The same is true for languages; the human story is only rich and compelling if we maintain all the contrasting ways in which we can tell it.” - Sam Winston
After a little demo from me using the word 'book' in a spoke pattern inside a bubble, the children got to work creating their own unique abstract designs featuring words or phrases from each of the languages they speak, then colouring them each in lots of bright and beautiful designs. Check out my Instagram post for examples. We all learned something valuable from 'One & Everything' today.
Download my FREE activity sheet for your own book club
About the creator
Sam Winston (author-illustrator)
Sam Winston’s practice is concerned with language not only as a carrier of messages but also as a visual form in and of itself. Initially known for his typography and artist’s books he employs a variety of different approaches including drawing, performance and poetry.
Operating at the intersection of visual culture and literature he has exhibited his work in museums and galleries around the world. Tate Britain, the British Library, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C and MoMA NYC, among others, hold his artist’s books in their permanent collections. Projects involving drawings, and installations have taken place at institutes such as The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Courtauld Institute of Art, and The Whitechapel Gallery.
His first mass-market book in collaboration with Oliver Jeffers won the Bologna Ragazzi Award for fiction, debuted at no.5 on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been translated into 20 languages. All Winston’s projects look to introduce audiences to new ways of thinking about and engaging with language.
Grab a copy
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Publication date: 3 November 2022
Other kids books by Sam Winston:
(also available in paperback)
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