Book Review: “Special Delivery: A Book’s Journey Around the World” by Polly Faber, Illustrated by Klas Fahlén

Special Delivery: A Book’s Journey Around the World is a picture book that charts the path a book like itself takes to reach its readers. It begins with the book’s production in a factory, from where it is driven to the docks and loaded on a freight ship. After sailing across the sea, the book travels by train to a warehouse before being loaded into a delivery van and taken to a bookstore, where it can be bought and reach its readers at last.

I love the way this book communicates how many processes and people are involved in helping books reach readers. It is an early (and gentle) lesson about how the global economy connects us and makes possible the colorful picture books readers around the world enjoy. I especially like how Faber gives a name to each person involved, which emphasizes the human labor essential to the process. Machines may print the books, but people pack them and transport them. That’s a vital thing to remember for people of all ages, especially those of us in well-off countries like the United States. It’s all too easy to forget about the people who work in the far-off factories that produce so many of our goods, and it’s never too early to push back against that tendency.

Personally, I do wish that the book contained a few more specifics. For example, currently, almost all color printing is done in China, but the book that Special Delivery tracks is only described as being printed in “a factory far away.” I think a little more concrete geography would have driven home the idea that books make an incredible journey to reach our hands and that we are all deeply connected to each other, even across national boundaries.

Still, the illustrations are vibrant and should please very young readers curious about how books are made and distributed.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press, for review.

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