Saturday 9 October 2021

The Story of Us

The Story of Us by Michael Wagner & Beck Feiner (ABC Books) PB HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 0 733339936

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Each of us belong to our own unique family that has its very own treasured family members with stories. If family members are not asked to share their stories, they are often lost as time goes by. The Story of Us encourages children to ask a relative a specially chosen question from the book. Then the children are invited to listen to the story and write a quick summary of it in this gorgeous book. I love that the children decide who to ask what question. The book, when completed, becomes a lovely biography that helps give a child a stronger sense of place in the world.


The Story of Us shows that each of us are a part of something big and important - our family. Michael Wagner starts this book with a short summary of what a family is and then encourages children to fill in their family tree. Some families are small, but all families are full of love…and stories. He lets children know that it is okay to include people who are not related to you, but who you would consider to be part of your family.


There are 24 questions to be investigated and children become the biography creators. The end of the book allows for family photos. The book then serves as a precious reminder as it already is but it will become even more important as children grow older. I like how it is the children who decide who in their family to ask which question. It is not an overnight project -- it will take time and patience. A younger child might need help recording but I think the book is linked to memory more when a child completes it. The questions inside are quite broad so they give scope for individual answers. My favourite place in the world is…. or One of the best books I’ve ever read – or movies I’ve ever seen – is…


Beck Feiner has illustrated this 64-page book with bright and bold colours that pop. The blue dotted endpapers give the book a fun yet official sort of appeal. The title page mirrors the bold red cover with lettering sprinkled with people and pets. Feiner has captured the reader with her statement, You Are About to Make History! Much like any documentary would start.  The illustrations for each question complement and bring in diversity and fun. The illustrations radiate with much happiness and love.


The Story of Us is a picture book for children aged 3 years and up. This is a book that is an heirloom in the making. It would make a wonderful gift to any child to learn about their place inside their family. Stories tie us together and once recorded they can always be shared and revisited anytime. When we feel we belong in the world we are so much stronger and confident.

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