The Book that Kibo Wrote – Mariana Ruiz Johnson

The Book that Kibo Wrote by Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers on April 26, 2022
Genres: Children's
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One night under the acacia trees, Kibo writes a story about home. His neighbor Naki reads his words, binds them into a book, and brings it to the city. There Camilo devours Kibo’s story, remembering his childhood in the savannah. The next day he shares the book and his memories with his friend Simon. Soon Simon starts writing new songs about distant lands. Where will Kibo’s book go next, and what will it spark for its next reader? 
Featuring a charming cast of animal characters, The Book that Kibo Wrote showcases the power of stories to connect readers across the globe.

A cute little picture book about the influence of stories, The Book that Kibo Wrote is the story about a story that makes its way around the world. It all begins with Kibo, a rhino who determines to write a story about the beauty of the savanna. Naki the crane reads the story and sews the loose pages between two sturdy covers, turning the story into a book. Naki takes the story and flies it far away, dropping it off into the city. Camilo the lion finds it and reading it gives him a sweet nostalgic feeling of the place he had been born. Camilo gives the book to a friend who gives the book to a friend who gives the book to a friend and pretty soon Kibo’s story of the African savanna has made its way all the way to the Arctic.

I kept waiting for there to be some sort of tie back to Kibo or for the story to end up in his hands again, with him having the knowledge of how his story had impacted others around the world. But we never get that. Reflecting on this, I can see how we could take this as a lesson in never knowing how our stories will affect others—that we must simply live our stories to the best we can. In a children’s book, however, I would have liked to have seen the story come full circle, for there to have been a more overt motivation for Naki to simply drop the book off in the city.

However, the open-endedness of The Book that Kibo Wrote may be compelling for kids who want to join in on the story and create their own ideas about why various characters did various things with the book. In some ways, it invites the reader into the story to participate with it. The illustrations are fun and vivid, exploring a number of different landscapes. It’s a beautiful book to talk about and look at, even if my personal preference would have been a bit more structure to the plot.