The I Wonder Bookstore
translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot
Today is World Book Day and to celebrate a day which is primarily aimed at encouraging young readers to visit their local bookshops, it seems apt to showcase this zany latest title from Japanese illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake. Yoshitake has become renown here for his picturebooks dealing with philosophical questions: It Might be an Apple, Can I Build Another Me? and What Happens Next? While his quirky style and signature page design can also be found here, this smaller tome, a huge bestseller in his native Japan, feels a little more grown-up, though there is absolutely nothing stopping young children from reading it.
The premise of the book is a rather unusual bookshop, one that only stocks books about books.
Readers are witness to a typical day in the bookshop, as the owner deals with customers’ requests: famous book-related places? book-related events? book accessories? No problem, there is a book for any book-related emergency. Apart from one. But you’ll need to read The I Wonder Bookstore to find out what it is! I can promise you it will make you chuckle though.
From the contents page, you know that as a keen metareader, you are on to something rather special, and might just have found your mothership:
From ‘how to wrap books’ (in tempura being my favourite answer), ‘how to make books’ (in a sausage-making machine type invention) to ‘where book ends’ (separated into their basic elements – including author’s spirit – then sprinkled in the wild via helicopter for new ideas to bud in people’s minds) this amazingly imaginative tome might look funny and definitely a little eccentric at first glance, but there is nonetheless something really poetic and deeply philosophical about our relationship with books within its pages. This is a slow-burner kind of book, one that you come back to, one that makes you think as well as laugh, and one that will talk to book lovers everywhere, therefore a perfect title for World Book Day.
Source: review copy sent from the publisher at my request