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The Book Of Gold
by Bob Staake
Schwartz & Wade / Random House
2017
ISBN: 978-0553510775
ISBN 10: 0553510770
 
Return To All Books
 
 

Behind The Pages With Bob:

"I originally came up with this story in November of 2007 -- and ten years later I was finally published. After BLUEBIRD received such positive reviews, a number of publishers wondered what I would do next -- and 'The Book Of Gold' is what I decided to do. There was incredible interest in the book, numerous publishers made offers to publish it, and in the end I was absolutely delighted that it would come out under Random House's Schwartz & Wade imprint (publishers of BLUEBIRD.) There are way too many behind-the-scenes stories to go into here, because if you saw my work folder for this book, you'd see that it is over 5" thick with manuscripts, notes, emails, revised manuscripts, cover concepts, sketches, rejected sketches and false starts. How a book this complicated on EVERY level (mechanics, story, sepia-to-color art, aging the lead character 75 years from beginning to end, etc) ever became a reality is truly stunning to me. That said, I am SO proud that it was published -- and will forever be indebted to Lee Wade for her shrewd, insightful and consistently gracious oversight as my editor."

-- Bob Staake

 


The book has two covers. If you detach the wraparound cover with the image that everyone associates with the book, you'll find the paper-on-board cover -- which I designed to look like an artifact squirreled away in the recesses of any dusty attic. It's my hope that children will find the book years from now (minus the wrap) and realize that THEY have indeed found the elusive Book Of Gold.

I studied countless NYC trolley routes to confirm that one could travel in 1935 across the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan. 

My original story referred to the "old shopkeeper" as "the old gypsy shopkeeper." Of course my publisher objected, but I insisted that within the context of 1935 that the commonly used word "gypsy" would have been acceptable in a children's book. In the end I agreed to remove it.

When Isaac travels to India (presumably in the 1960s) he visits a street bazaar in "Calcutta", though we now know the city as Kolkata. Still, all the signage in that scene is hand-painted in authentic Bengali.

The scene of the Queensboro Bridge is intended as an homage to cinematographer Gordon Willis' iconic (black and white) image from Woody Allen's 'Manhattan'

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Summary:

Award-winning illustrator Bob Staake (Bluebird and The Red Lemon) brings us an emotionally rich picture book about a boy who discovers that the search for knowledge is more important than knowledge itself.

Young Isaac Gutenberg isn't a curious boy . . . that is, until he meets an old shopkeeper who tells him about The Book of Gold. This special book, hidden somewhere in the world, holds all the answers to every question and turns to solid gold when opened.

Isaac is determined to find the book-it will make him rich! He opens many books in his search, but quickly closes them when they don't turn to gold. That changes one day when he opens a book, looks at the page, and a question pops into his mind. From then on, he reads every word.

Time passes and Isaac ages, but he still scours dusty attics and flea markets, crisscrossing the world, searching for The Book of Gold. This sweeping picture book asks important questions: Is searching for knowledge better than having it? How important is curiosity? And what makes a life meaningful?

 

Sample images from book (above)

Publisher's Weekly

Staake (Beachy and Me) places Isaac in a series of magnificent architectural spaces teeming with detail, including many inside and outside the famous library (whose two lions, Isaac eventually discovers, are called Patience and Fortitude). Sepia-toned illustrations reflect the book's initial 1930s setting, giving way to color as Isaac awakens to the potential of books over the course of many decades.

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