Tag Archives: wordless

Don’t be a surd

fish catWe have a running joke in our family.  When our now teenager was very, very little, his dad taught him the phrase, “Don’t be absurd!” because he thought it would be hilarious.  Being just a little guy, he usually said this, “Don’t be a surd, Daddy!”   Also funny.  Now I find that I am a surd pretty much all the time, since a large part of what comes out of my mouth is greeted with a lot of skepticism in this whole world of the absurd.

It fits so many situations.  This book is sure a little absurd, but entirely in a way that kids will enjoy.  Cat and Fish are kind of doing what you’d expect a cat and a fish to do, until Fish flies off.  Cat chases, across the room, through tunnels, up to the moon.  Ridiculous, yes, but somehow charming to see a cat ride a falling star back to Earth.

It’s also wordless, so it could be used in a lot of situations – for a writing prompt, with adult language learners, as something for a little one to read in the car by themselves.

The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc

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Surprise, surprise

red jed alexanderYou think you know the Little Red Riding Hood story, and then someone throws a book out there with a twist.  Like this one.  Is the Wolf a good guy or a bad guy?  What’s Little Red up to?  And Grandma?  Does she have a plan or is she just as surprised as the rest of us?

Fun and wordless.  And check out Little Red and Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin for another look at the classics while you’re at it.

Red by Jed Alexander

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Adventures in wallpaper

wallpaperWell, if any of us needed to find a reason to fear wallpaper…you’ve got one now!

I’m kind of kidding.  I helped a friend peel 1970s wallpaper off their kitchen once, and that’s probably quite enough to make me avoid it.

And yet, there is a very delightful picture book out in the world now, which imagines all kinds of lives happening in the layers of wallpaper.  There are even MONSTERS!  And rainbows!  And maybe a new friend or two, too.  The adults might keeping doing their “blah, blah” thing, but this girl will be off on an adventure to who-knows-where.  Perfect.

Wallpaper by Thao Lam

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Connections made by my awesome brain

igotitHow do you illustrate the moment before you know how yelling “I GOT IT!” is going to turn out?

Depending on how you look at it, David Wiesner’s new mostly wordless book is the answer.

If you don’t know David Wiesner’s work, you have some joyful moments in front of you.  He’s the author of Caldecott-winning Tuesday (personal favorite) as well as Mr. Wuffles and June 29, 1999.  He also illustrated Fish Girl, a super graphic novel.

And here’s the thing.  After reading this book, I was thinking about the way we reimagine and replay moments in our lives, and I remembered Kate Atkinson’s great novel, Life After Life.  It’s 439 pages and might not appeal to most picture book readers, but my brain made the leap and connected it to I Got It!  I just find that amazing.  Brains.  They’re always up to something.

Thank you, brain.

I Got It! by David Wiesner

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You say tomato, I say tomahto

blue riderThis book is a masterpiece.  Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but it’s 100% groovy at a minimum.  It’s wordless – how I LOVE great wordless books! – and the art is delightful.  There’s so much in the early pages to look at, and then when the book and imagination take off, it’s like happy paintings are exploding on the page.

Your average kindergartner might interpret it a bit differently, however.  Seeing that wonderful blue horse with the long, colorful tail might lead them to say, “It looks like lightning is coming out of that horse’s butt!”  I’m pretty sure that’s not what the artist was going for, but you never know.  Perhaps Geraldo Valério has a sense of humor and an ability to look into a five year old’s not-so-deep thoughts.  Maybe the joke is on me, my friends.

So enjoy it as an adult or share it with a kid who can appreciate the bright, thrilling fun of it.  But maybe stay away from the cold medication while reading this one or prepare for giggles, lots of giggles.

Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério

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Crocodile in a suit? I’m there.

profi crocoI have a deep and possibly strange love of Lyle the Crocodile, a character invented by Bernard Waber in the 1960s.

When I worked with kids, I came across one of the Lyle books, which reignited memories from my childhood–taking home ten books a week from my local library and thinking about the stories I would tell about Lyle or other similar animal characters.  Coincidentally, one of our project’s sponsors was named Lyle, and he, like Lyle the Crocodile, went off to an office.  So one afternoon, I asked Lyle read about Lyle with one of the afterschool groups.  It’s one of my favorite memories of that time, since it freezes both the kids and Lyle in time.  Lyle found out he had Parkinson’s a few years later and did not live to see the kids he’d worked so hard to support graduate from high school.

So Professional Crocodile was something special before I even opened it.  It’s wordless, which I love, although there’s a smattering of language on signs as the crocodile heads to work.  Along the way, he rides the subway, picks up some flowers for a co-worker, and puts away his street gear in the staff lockers.  There are all kinds of people and animals doing their things, too, with funny expressions across the emotional spectrum, charming details, and moments that show daily life in a big city.

What a treat!

Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio

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Not one word more or less

linesIs this book about a lone figure skater?  An artist?  A community?

You’re on your own to figure that out, but if you’re a fan of wordless picture books, you’ll like this one, too.  Kids who love details in picture books will love this, but you can make it as simple or elaborate as you imagine it all to be.

Lines by Suzy Lee

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Read. Repeat. Now read it again.

turn on the nightI came across this one in the new picture books at another library.  (Yes, I’m just that much of a geek that I visit other libraries in my free time.)  I glanced at it, and seeing it was wordless, it went into my stack to take home.  On the first read, I thought it was a little weird.  Then I read the inside flap.  Aha… I read it again, noticing a few more details.  And then again.  More.  And again.  Even more.

It’s the best kind of wordless picture book.  You could read the story each time in a slightly different way, and it might change a little as you notice more and more of the details.  Don’t get me wrong – the pictures are not full of tiny, over-the-top drawings that make you stay on a page for five minutes.  They’re simple, but deceptively simple.  Is that another reindeer?  Are the lights different now?  What happened to the sleeping girl?  Definitely worth another look.

Turn On The Night by Geraldo Valério

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Wordless, wonderful

little foxA girl.  A stuffed animal/cuddly toy.  The toy goes missing.  Will it be found?

It’s not a revolutionary idea for a picture book; all kinds of great books have started with this simple idea:  Knuffle Bunny and Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (a Newbery Medal winner in 1930) to name two.

Little Fox in the Forest takes this and moves it to a whole different level.  It turns out the fox who’s stolen the toy lives in a little town of animals – complete with soda fountains and grocers – and even finding it may not mean it returns to its owner.

The ending is sweet, and the illustrations are wonderful—full of light and shade and colors that fit the scenes perfectly.  This would be a great book for early readers who are a little afraid of the printed word.  They can “read” the story and tell it without getting slowed down by those pesky letters.

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

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Another wonderful wordless – Skunk on a String

There’s a street parade with awesome balloons, and through the middle floats a skunk.  Wait…what?  Is it there because it likes floating through the air?  At first, you’re not sure.  Various adventures beckon, and there’s a lot to look at and talk about.  What’s the skunk doing?  Who are all those animals?  Isn’t the art cool?  What about the ending?

Wordless picture books are wonderful for many kinds of readers and non-readers.  As I’ve noted before, they work with very young kids who can learn new words and talk about what’s happening in the story.  For young writers and artists, you can talk about how the author/illustrator has related the story in interesting ways without words.  With language learners, they offer an opportunity to use what you know and figure out new words you’d like to learn.

For more of them, see this Pinterest page.

Skunk on a String by Thao Lam

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