Wordless Picture Book
Written & Illustrated by Jeannie BakerPublished by Candlewick on November 9, 2010 Genre/Topics: Wordless, Cultural Ages: 6+, 48 pages
Two stories and two cultures are told simultaneously in one book. The stories appear side by side as the reader turns the pages at the same time. Mirror follows a typical day of two boys on opposite sides of the world. The stories take place in Sydney, Australia, and Morocco, North Africa. An introduction is provided in English and Arabic at the start of each story. The boys awake, eat breakfast, and travel to town for errands. The left story takes place in Sydney, Australia, and the destination is a hardware store by car on roads. The right story takes place in Morocco, as the boy and his father travel by donkey on a trail to the market. The final pages display the family in Australia, with a new carpet bought on their travel and the family in Morocco, explores their new computer. The two families may appear different, but they mirror each other with common elements found in all families.
I highly enjoyed Mirror. This wordless picture book is a very unique idea how two stories are told at the same time. Mirror really provides the reader with an experience about each boy’s day in their culture. The book’s illustrations are amazing with detailed facial expressions, market foods, car license plates, animals on the trail, carpet designs, and even keyboard keys. You really feel that you are there with the families. The illustrations are photographs of collages. The detailed collages are made with many materials, such as sand, fabric, wool, tin, plastic, paint, clay, and vegetation. I read some criticism about Mirror starting it’s not easy as a read aloud in the classroom. True, it may be difficult to handle the extended pages so perhaps independent or partner reading is best. Besides, you need to examine closely to view all the details. Another criticism was that Mirror displayed cultural stereotypes. Mirror is a great book to introduce children to different lifestyles and cultures even though we share similar traits. I recommend Mirror for older ages to understand the concept and handle the book with care.
All is well at the zoo until walrus notices the open gate and decides to escape. Where’s walrus now? The zookeeper frantically searches for the escaped walrus throughout town. However, walrus is difficult to find as he hides by disguising himself. He blends into scenes and situations in town. A few disguises he becomes are a firefighter, artist, and even a dancer. Walrus wears different hats that match each disguise. Walrus can’t help but stand out when he discovers a pool and shows his diving skills. Is the chase off now that walrus is no longer in disguise?
Where’s Walrus? is a delightful and humorous book, especially for younger ages. The illustrations are simple with bold colors. The storyline is also straightforward – animal escapes, hides, and zookeeper tries to find. Younger ages can find walrus within the pages. Where’s Walrus? is sure to get many laughs. I recommend this book.
Written by Paul Fleischman
Published by Candlewick on May 8, 2007
Ages: 5+, 32 pages
Genre/Topics: Wordless, Circus
Ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls The Garibaldi Circus is coming to town! There are many busy preparations for the circus, but if you look closely you may get a sneak peek. A young girl watches across the street at the bus stop as people prepare for the upcoming circus. The girl witnesses a tight rope walker who is actually a construction worker balancing pails. She sees clowns who are kids skateboarding into the market. There’s a sword swallower sitting in the dentist chair. A stilt walker balances on a ladder while painting. A dog’s shadow becomes a scary lion. The entire street ‘circus’ is viewed on the last pages. The girl boards the bus at the same time a boy sits at the bus stop to watch. What exciting things will you see at the circus pre-show?
Sidewalk Circus is an entertaining book that displays ordinary street events into an exciting show. I thought it was interesting that the girl was the only individual at the bus stop who noticed the street shows. Even though this is a wordless picture book, words appear on circus posters, shops, and billboards announcing the circus. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and show city details. I recommend Sidewalk Circus to help see the extraordinary in the otherwise ordinary daily events in your city.
Flotsam: A wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating in the water.
A curious boy explores many animals and things at the beach. An old camera with barnacles washes onto the shore and he develops the film. He discovers interesting pictures of sea creatures: An octopus reading in the living room, seastars carry islands on their back, and even small aliens surrounded by sea horses. One photo catches his eye of a girl holding a photo who is also holding a photo. The boy zooms in the photo with his microscope and discovers many children holding the photo. He then takes a photo of himself with the photo. The camera is thrown back into the water, so more photos can be taken and other children can find it on the beach.
Flotsam is another beautifully illustrated book by David Wiesner. The book has realistic elements as he finds animals on the beach with fantasy elements of sea photos. The photo pages were outlined black in the book to appear like a photo. I only had a problem with throwing the camera back into the ocean, but I understand it’s part of the story. Remind children (and adults) to keep nature clean. Spark their wonder about sea mysteries with Flotsam.
A boy falls asleep and his adventures begin in his dreams. The book he read before bed is open and a page with a map floats away. This map appears throughout the pages on his journey. His checkered blanket becomes fields then a chess board. He battles a dragon through a forest. There’s even a Gulliver’s Travels element as the boy appears bigger and smaller at moments. He freely falls from one adventure to the next.
Free Fall is a beautifully illustrated book that truly takes the reader on adventures. After reading the book once, I slowly went back many times to view the details. The transitions from one adventure to the next occur smoothly and gradually. I recommend Free Fall for older ages to pick up story details and continue in their writing. Younger ages can also enjoy Free Fall for the illustrations. I recommend this book.
Wave is the story of a young girl’s day at the beach. The girl appears with a flock of seagulls and at first she is hesitant to go into the water. The girl and seagulls are in charcoal grey on one page and the ocean waves are blue watercolors on the adjacent page. Soon the charcoal and watercolor combine as the young girl has fun in the ocean. Finally, one huge wave causes the girl to get swept away onto the shore. She leaves the beach in a blue dress as a part of the ocean always stays with her.
I thought Wave had a simple storyline, but the drawings add depth. I love how her day begins boring and grey then splashes of blue are upon her as she plays in the ocean. Wave is a good wordless picture book for younger ages, since the plot is simple. All ages will enjoy the illustrations and colors.
Written & Illustrated by David Wiesner
Published 1999 by Clarion Books
Genre/Subject: Wordless Picture Book, Clouds, Imagination
A boy goes on a field trip to the Empire State Building in New York City. However, it’s a very cloudy day and not much can be seen at the Observatory. A friendly cloud whisks the boy away into the sky. They travel far until they reach their destination: Sector 7. Sector 7 is the control station where clouds arrive and depart. The clouds have a problem that hopefully the boy can solve.
I read Sector 7 to two classes and both groups were skeptical about a wordless book. A student asked, ‘You mean we’re making the story?’ Yes, that is exactly what occurred during read aloud. The students were captivated with picture details and making the story in their own words. Sector 7 is a good book for older ages to pick up clues in the story. Students can write or draw about what their cloud would look like. I recommend this book.
Zoom was my first wordless picture book experience that got me excited to read more. Each page in the book ‘zooms’ out into a bigger picture. You really don’t know what’s going to be the next zoom. I provided the first three pages that hopefully catch your interest and you’ll want to know the last zoom. I stated that the book is ages 5 and up, but really any age can enjoy these bright colors. It’s a great wordless book to use for teaching predictions, since you really need to guess what the next ‘zoom’ will be. Don’t worry, the first three pictures don’t destroy the wonder of this wordless picture book.
People normally associate picture books with well, pictures. There doesn’t have to be any text to understand the book. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words. Wordless picture books can be used in many ways. I’m going to review completely wordless picture books about twice a month.
Here are some elements that can be used with wordless picture books. Of course, many of these elements can be used with any book.
- Sparks imagination.
- Understand basic story structure (beginning, middle, end)
- Increases & enhances vocabulary that isn’t on the page.
- Mixed reading levels and ages are on a level playing field.
- Make story predictions through the illustrations.
- Create dialog between characters on the same page.
- Examine the character’s actions and traits.
- Promotes creativity.
- Encourages interaction with the book.
- It’s fun to read!