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The Stamp Collector

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  58 reviews
A city boy finds a stamp that unlocks his imagination; a country boy is captivated by stories. When they grow up, the two boys take different paths – one becomes a prison guard, the other works in a factory – but their early childhood passions remain. When the country boy’s stories of hope land him in prison, the letters and stamps sent to him from faraway places intrigue ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  183 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012-13
Beautiful to read...Beautiful to look at... Thoughtful prose and a "story of not long ago and not far away." The power of stories to bind us together, yet free us and promote social justice. Great to explore issues of government oppression and freedom of speech with older children. The pictures complement the text...both haunt me. A book worth reflecting and discussing! A 2013 NBGS book! (Notable Books for a Global Society) ...more
You should read The Stamp Collector because you love language, because you need stories, because you believe in the power of writing to connect, to heal and to change. As a quiet reflection on the freedom of speech and government censorship, this is an achingly beautiful picture book with a rich lyrical voice. A poor city boy finds a single stamp and it opens up a world he had never before contemplated. A dreamy country boy loses himself in books and words, his imagination soaring far beyond the ...more
Stories can change lives, and this lovely book describes how an unlikely friendship develops between two men. A city boy falls in love with a beautiful stamp he finds on the street and dreams of other worlds. He becomes a prison guard in order to make a living. A country boy grows up telling stories and writing pieces that are critical of his government's regime, for which he is imprisoned. Eventually, the paths of the two cross briefly. Wow! After reading this brief but powerful book and readin ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Rating this book a "2" meaning "it was okay." The Afterword was the best part. The premise was wonderful. But the story itself didn't grab me. It was poetically written and dramatically illustrated, but the meat and potatoes were hamburger and mashed. There was not enough detail, a little TOO much showing and not telling, if that's possible. The relationship between the prisoner and the guard was non-existent and then there. A story that children would love? For example? Perhaps if this book wer ...more
Claudia Osmond
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and affecting story, full of hope and a future.
Helaine Becker
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book will make you cry. In a good way. Find out the story behind the story, too, and you'll be shocked, amazed, and impressed beyond words. Raise money for PEN when you buy this book. ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps lately I'm really sensitive, but this story moved me very directly - a love for writing, stories, stamps and courage. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A wonderful story about political oppression, freedom of expression, and the power of stories to change lives.
Marco den Ouden
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most children's picture books appeal to the very young set and are fairy tales, or light stories of play, adventure, and fantasy. The Stamp Collector is in a league of its own. Although in the style of a children's picture book, this is a book adults can well appreciate. It has an adult theme.

The story is about two children, one who lives in the city in the shadow of a nearby prison. One day he finds an envelope on the street and is fascinated by the stamp. He saves it. The other child lives in
Kaige Zagelow
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The Stamp Collector is hands down one of the best picture books i have ever read. The story is emotionally moving and filled with beautiful illustrations. The illustrations within the book blend traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery. Through this, the illustrator is able to capture the feelings and emotions of the characters through color contrast and other elements. Without spoiling the story, one of my favorite aspects of the book is the lack of characterization. The author nev ...more
Bailey Stehn
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Stamp Collector follows two individuals separately, one who is a country boy and one a city boy. One grows up to be a prison guard while the other becomes a factory worker. The factory worker is arrested for speaking out against the government which is where he meets the prison guard. This book can be used to discuss how powerful governments can be damaging to societies. This can also teach people to follow what they believe in even if people of power push back on them.
Ernie Hemingway
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING. What a beautiful, well crafted masterpiece. Such a delightful surprise.
Jennifer Yanos
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! The illustrations are my favourite part! So full of symbolism and power! I love the imagery in this book. Can’t wait to share it with my students!
Rebecca Gale
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really lovely book. A sensitive way to look at the realities of another country and culture (China).
Aisha Paaluhi
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Stamp Collector is an interesting story based on real people. The story tells of two boys, one who loves stamps and another who loves words. As the two grow into men, they find work to support their families. The stamp collector becomes a prison guard, and the boy who loves words became a writer. Unfortunately, the man who wrote stories was thrown in prison because writing his stories were frowned upon. This is where the two men meet. The prison guard sees the joy that the writer has brought ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The Stamp Collector is a story about oppression, expression, and the power of the written word told through the lives of two boys. It follows a city boy’s love for stamps and a country boy’s love for writing. It parallels the boys’ lives until they meet. Both discover their love at a young age and through their love of stamps and stories, escape to a world of dreams and adventure. As the boys grow older, they realize that these dreams and stories will not support them in real life. They are both ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it
The Stamp Collector tells the story of two parallel lives. The first is a little by who grew up in a city near a prison. He loves stamps and lets his imagination run wild with the possibilities of the world. Eventually as the boy gets older he has to take a job as a prison guard at the near by prison. There is a second boy who grew up in the countryside who loves words. He reads everything in sight and then begins writing himself. His stories touch people but the authority figures do not like th ...more
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: infm208
This is a tale of two boys; one from the city who loves stamps and the other from the country who loves to read and write stories. Both boys come from impoverished families. The city boy, who loves stamps, imagines a world around his beloved stamp, and eventually grows up to work as prison guard. The country boy grows up to work in a factory, and writes about his dying land. Although his stories bring joy and hope to the villagers, they bring fear to others and he is eventually taken away to pri ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My father was a stamp collector, so when I saw this book, I had to stop and read it. amazing tale. I loved the story of who the two boys grew up and the paths their lives took. Illustrations are muted , but lovely. Older kids and adults will get the most out of this story.
Adrianna Wesley
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 8+ years old
Summary: This is a book about an inmate in jail and his relationship with a guard. The inmate was arrested because of the political poems he would write. There poems were considered dangerous and illegal. The inmate he receives letter after letter of support from all over the world for what he did before he was arrested. The inmate was not allowed to the letters, but the guard was able to and he began to read them. After reading them he decides to go ah
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review at!

This is a lovely and evocative story. The writer and the guard have very specific roles, and the guard is afraid of getting in trouble like the writer, but he takes pity on someone who is alone and didn’t do anything bad to deserve being put in prison. The guard collects stamps because they are beautiful. He takes the stamps from the letters to the writer because they are lovely, but he sees that the writer needs to know that he is not alon
Jessica Moden
Reading Level: 3rd Grade
This book emphasizes the idea that freedom of speech is not accepted in every country and in many there are harsh punishments for simply writing things even if they are not intended to be published. This book features two main characters, the country boy and the guard of the prison. The country boy finds a stamp and sees the true value of the stories and travels that individual stamp holds, which leads him to write stories. The wonderful story the country boy writes gets
Leah Jackman
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a writer and a prison guard who secretly have a stamp letter system going on so the prisoner can have stories and communication. It’s a story about writing and passing on stories that excite ones self enough to get them through anything, even prison. This becomes a story about how prisoners all start to write stories and end up being able to pass letters to family members. And it all started with one stamp that told a whole story. If one stamp can tell a story then why not ...more
Reading Level: 3rd grade
This book emphasizes the idea that freedom of speech is not accepted in every country and in many; there are harsh punishments for simply writing things even if they are not intended to be published. This book features two main characters, the country boy and the guard of the prison. The country boy finds a stamp, sees the true value of the stories, and travels that individual stamp holds, which leads him to write stories. The wonderful story the country boy writes gets a
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This story follows the lives of two young boys who grow into men and the different lives they choose to live. Where one man becomes a prisoner and the other becomes the guard, this book highlights the confined lifestyle that both men were living, even if they didn’t even know it. The author did a great job at really making this picture book empowering and personal with a deep message of breaking free. The illustrations were incredibly orchestrated and they complimented the story flawlessly. The ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a picture book about human rights violations in present day China. It has won numerous awards. It is inspired by two writers: Nurmuhemmet Yasin and Jiang Weiping. Weiping spent 6 years in prison for exposing govt. corruption. Yasin is serving 10 yrs for writing a short story called "The Wild Pigeon". These trials are often secret and the punishments are harsh. PEN International set up a committee in 1960, to help imprisoned writers. Weiping now lives in Toronto, thanks to them.

The story
Somewhat (auto)biographical.

The story is based upon two different authors who were imprisoned by the Chinese Communist government for writing stories the government didn't approve of.

Two boys grow up in China. One develops a love of stamps, and starts a collection of them. As he grows, he feels the need to be responsible and provide for his family, so he takes a job as a prison guard.
The other boy loves words, and grows up to become an author. He writes a story that is dislike by the governmen
Jacquelyn Hoogendyk
The Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier is a story about an unlikely friendship that develops, between a city boy who falls in love with collecting stamps that take his imagination to other worlds and a country boy who falls in love with words and the power of stories. The city boy grows up to be a prison guard to make ends meet. The country boy grows up to be a writer. His stories, which are critical of his government’s regime, put him in jail for life. It is in this unlikely place that the tw ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Genre: Picture Book / Historical Fiction

The Stamp Collector is a truly magnificent story about two very different men that become friends from events that cause one of them to become incarcerated in a prison. One of the men is a prisoner and the other is a guard. The prisoner was placed in prison where he would eventually die because he was using text and speech to talk against the government. In a classroom, I would use this story to demonstrate to my students that you need language in your li
Melissa Morton
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tl307-spring2014
The Stamp Collector is about two boys, one who loves stamps and one who loves stories, who meet and form a friendship under unlikely circumstances. The boy who loves stamps is from the city and grows up to become a prison guard. The boy who loves stories grows up to be a writer, but is put in jail for his work. The two men meet in the prison and begin their friendship...

This is a simple story with a strong message. This book captivated my attention and fell in love with it. The simple story line
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