One of the things I used to love about working in bookstores was when new boxes arrived from publishers. It was like Christmas every month, the anticipation and the joy of finding out what was inside.
Now I get that feeling when I walk into a bookshop to see what is new on the shelves and also when I’m browsing the internet, checking out other peoples blogs for new and exciting books.
A couple of days a go I came across Suzy Lee on Amazon. The book is Wave and it is wordless.
Suzy Lee is amazing and I must now have Wave on my bookshelf; have a look at her website here to learn more about this very gorgeous artist.
Wordless picture books are of course an art because the whole story must be conveyed convincingly in the illustrations. They are very important in education for prompting children to learn how to interpret stories and also to recognise a beginning, middle and end in story telling. Wordless books are great at home as well; younger children can enjoy explaining what is happening in the illustrations and older children can take it further by imagining alternate endings and additional plot lines. Wordless picture books are rewarding.
weheartbooks top 5 wordless picture books
1. Up and Up (Shirley Hughes)
I love Shirley Hughes and one of my favorite books as a child was Dogger, or David and the Dog as it is known in the USA (I’ll post about that one another time). She is one of the best known children’s author/illustrators in the world. Set out in comic strip style Up and Up consists of black line drawings against a sepia background. The story of a little girl who longs to fly, it is purely magical as you follow her journey: she gets her wish and off she goes up and up. Her personality is infectious and she always makes me smile as she drifts along until she is finally rescued by a man in a hot air balloon. There is so much to look at in this book which makes it a great tool for encouraging children to make up their own stories. It doesn’t even have to be about the main character, you could make up different stories for the others she meets along the way. Ages 3+
2. The Arrival (Shaun Tan)
Well I just think this award winning book is incredible, in fact Shaun Tan is incredible. The Arrival depicts the journey of a man who leaves home for a strange, fantastical land in order to support his family. The hundreds of drawings Tan worked on for this stunning book are partly a reflection of his own father’s journey to Australia and his struggle to fit into an alien culture. More than a book The Arrival is an awe-inspiring artwork; every time I pick it up I find new and amazing elements that I had missed before. Ages 8+
3. The Snowman (Raymond Briggs)
Regarded as a cult classic this picture book tells a story in pictures – 175 frames to be exact – of the one night friendship of a boy and his snowman. The boy lovingly creates the man out of snow and when he looks out of his window that night he discovers the snowman is alive. They take each other on a tour of their worlds, the boy of his house and the snowman of his wintery world. In the morning when the boy wakes up the snowman is gone, he has melted and all that is left are pieces of coal. This book is all about the joy of exploring and discovering new things, it is about new friendships and then the fond memories of those friendships. This book really does give children the opportunity to imagine their own ending to the story. 4+
4. Sunshine and Moonlight (Jan Omerod)
These are favorites of mine from childhood, I can remember borrowing them from the school library numerous times. In the last few years they have been re-published and are just as beautiful as I remember them way back in primary school. Sunshine follows the progression of a little girl’s day as she gets up out of bed and begins her daily routine. My favorite scenes are when she hops into bed with her parents while they read their morning papers; everyone in this house has a routine and they all fit into each other’s. Toddlers can compare their routine in the morning before childcare/preschool with this little girl’s. Jan includes so much detail that this is perfect for beginning discussion with children about their own routines. Sunshine won the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award in 1982. Moonlight is similar to Sunshine but of course follows the routine on the other end of the day; cleaning teeth, bathtime and bed. Ages 2+
Reading Tuesday is like watching an M. Night Shyamalan film; it is weird, quirky, funny and enthralling. On this particular Tuesday around 8 in the evening a strange thing begins to happen, suddenly frogs/toads start to invade the town levitating on lily pads and seemingly having a great time. The frogs eventually return to their rightful homes BUT the big surprise is what is going to happen on the following Tuesday? Tuesday won the prestigious Caldecott Medal and Wiesner’s amazing speech is here. I love this quote from that speech
Fortunately, kids know funny when they see it. If, after reading Tuesday one evening before bed, they look out the window and see frogs flying by—well, we should all be so lucky.
Wiesner’s art is incredible and I can guarantee that parents will love this as much as their children. Ages 4+
Although we have used some very classic choices here there is also room for a special mention for the fantastic wordless books by wonderful Australian illustrator Gregory Rogers, The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard and sequel Midsummer Knight. Ages 6+