Monday, May 9, 2011


I’ve just crossed paths with a weirdly wonderful book by Tara Books.  Fingerprint by Andrea Anastasio (709.2 AnF 2009) is a wordless picture book that isn’t for little kids at all.

It starts with a single black fingerprint at the bottom of the first page which, on the next page, is joined by a pink print at the top. From there additional pink prints are added incrementally until the black print is seemingly pushed out off the page, only to reappear on the adjoining one.  Eventually, pages are filled with prints of various colours,arranged and rearranged into different, orderly patterns, until ultimately, they are messily merged together.

So, what’s going on?  What’s it all about?  What does it mean?

This book takes more than one reading.  I suspect interpretations will vary depending on the individual reader and whatever experiences said reader brings to this book.  Yes, it’s that kind of book.

Initially, I was ‘reading’ this wordless book as allegory, about an individual’s place in society.  But I didn’t really come up with a conclusion. Or at least, an one tidy conclusion -- we all end up together, we're different but the same? I thoroughly enjoyed the essay at the book’s end, written by the editor of Tara Books, V. Geetha (a historian and political activist), which explains some of bigger concepts surrounding the issue of fingerprints, the process of fingerprinting and what this means to the individual both historically and, especially, currently.  This essay provides the book with a lot of depth.

The impetus of the book was based on the author’s experience of coming through an American airport where immigration requires non-nationals to be fingerprinted.  This incident stayed with the author and eventually emerged into his work.

I could see this book being used at the secondary level (grades 7 to 12) as a spark that could lead into discussions about personal identity, privacy concerns, political issues relating to controlling individuals at the state level, immigration processing, international relations, and artistic and creative processes.  There is a lot to work with here, and I would encourage teachers and students of art and social studies to spend some time with this little book.

Today is Nonfiction Monday, a roundup of blogs about nonfiction children's literature.  Check out Shelf-Employed to see today's recommendations.


shelf-employed said...

I'm intrigued enough to place a hold on this one. Thanks.

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