I’ve made a new discovery in the past year that I want to share with you all: WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS. They are a revelation to me, let me tell you. I am very much a “word person;” a well-written turn of phrase delights me like nothing else. I have several dictionaries in my house and I watch the National Spelling Bee every year. ( ß Nerd.) So it was a new experience for me when I found myself paging through a wordless book a few months ago and feeling caught up in the story in a way that usually only happens for me through well-crafted sentences. That prompted me to give a second through to wordless books, and from what I’ve seen, there’s a lot to love. As Anne of Green Gables would say, there is so much “scope for imagination” in them! A well-illustrated wordless book can convey a wide variety of emotions and a clear plot, but also leave lots of room for the reader to tell their own story within the plot outline. They are wide open for questions and speculation about what could have happened next or what characters might be saying to one another. I love the opportunity they give for readers to bring their own imaginations to the page and play around with the story. Here are some wordless books that I’ve found and enjoyed recently:
Bluebird, by Bob Staake, Random House Children’s Books (2013)
This is the book that I picked up a few months ago that opened my eyes to the wonders of wordless books. Set in a big city, it tells a delightful story of friendship between a small bluebird and a somewhat lonely boy. I’m fascinated by the way that the images Staake shows illustrate exactly what’s going on, even without text or dialogue. It’s funny, sad, and beautiful, and I want to read it again and again.
Journey, by Aaron Becker, Candlewick Press (2013)
I’ve had Journey on hold at my library for three months; that’s how long it took for a copy to become available! It just won a Caldecott Honor in January, and there was a lot of pre-award buzz that it could have taken the top prize as well. Reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, it shows the journey of a young girl into a magnificent castle and her encounter with its evil ruler. Like Bluebird, it’s also about the search for a friend.
The Lion & The Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney, Little, Brown & Company (2009)
A retelling of one of Aesop’s Fables, Pinkney’s version of this story won the Caldecott Medal in 2010. I love the oh-so-beautiful and delicate watercolor illustrations and how the perspective is so close up, right there with the animals. It must have been so challenging to illustrate the lion and the mouse in a way that is realistic but also conveys enough emotion to get across the main points of the story. I think Pinkney does it wonderfully.
Your turn! What are some of your favorite wordless picture books? I’d love to know!
Featured image by Paul Boekell
- Making the World More Beautiful (with Miss Rumphius) - May 17, 2023
- How Much is Enough? - February 8, 2023
- Picturing My Fluffy, Crispy, Silent, Impatient World - November 23, 2022