A quick three mini-reviews for tonight. Stories can unfold without a single written word. In these cases, the artist becomes the sole storyteller, crafting scenes that will allow the reader to “read” the images and interpret what is happening. Here are three wordless adventures for today.
Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick, 2013)
This 2014 Caldecott Honor book takes us on a journey through the imagination. Like Harold with his purple crayon, a young girl can use her red marker to draw a door in into a magical world, fully fleshed out in rich color and gorgeous landscapes. Readers travel along with her on her adventure.
I love this particular book from last year–Becker’s visual landscapes seem to pop off the pages. Both a magical natural world and an architectural one provide a feast for the eyes. The plot arc of our young heroine moves from boredom and curiosity, to discovery and exploration, to adventure and rescue, and finally full circle back home. Aaron Becker feeds that marvelous fantasy of the magical world just beyond the secret door, or through the rabbit hole. This is a great book to inspire young artists and storytellers. Now . . . if I can just find my own “magic” marker . . .
Check out the book trailer !
Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (Clarion, 2013)
Yup, this one was also a Caldecott Honor book for 2014. David Wiesner is no stranger to acclaim and awards. His imaginative, funny and often surreal picture books have been wowing readers for some time now. This is Mr. Wiesner’s newest contribution, and it shows the story of a group of tiny aliens who have landed on earth. Unfortunately, Mr. Wuffles thinks the spaceship is his cat toy and manages to damage the controls. A group of friendly bugs come to the rescue, leading the aliens to safety, feeding them cheese crackers and helping them repair their ship. This close encounter of the feline kind is a charming science fiction contribution to the world of science fiction picture books.
I finally got a chance to read this one! I’ve got to admit I think I missed it a few times because the front picture only displays the cat (looking content or annoyed, not sure). It didn’t look like the other Wiesner books I was familiar with. It doesn’t look like an alien encounter story. But it most delightedly is, and Mr. Wiesner continues to delight and suprise his viewers with unexpected touches (I love the wall ‘paintings’ that the bugs have drawn) while having a keen eye not just for the fantastic image but the naturalistic image. Mr. Wuffles behaves like a real cat through the entire story, down to exceedingly irritated tail thumping at the end. Great for younger audiences, especially those who may have pets of their own.
Of course this is hardly the only wordless book by David Wiesner. If you enjoy this one check out Flotsam (2006), and Sector 7 (1999) to name just two.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Lothian, 2007)
From picture books, we now move to graphic novels. Shaun Tan’s stunning look at the immigrant experience through the fantastic is something not to be missed. That he does this without words is remarkable. Readers follow our father character as he leaves his family to journey far away to a strange new world. That world is full of fantastic buildings and objects and creatures. It’s a beautiful but baffling world for our new immigrant, as he struggles to start his life in this new place. As he slowly learns to navigate his world, he meets other immigrants who’ve come to this city–and he begins to build a life. The story has a happy ending–fresh with promise and hope for the character’s whole family.
Shaun Tan uses the visual language of fantasy to impress up on readers what it might be like to journey to a country so different from your own, where you can’t read the signs or understand the day to day mechanisms. It highlights the struggles, but also the hopes and dreams for the future that these new arrivals possess. Whether in the classroom talking about immigration , or in the home on a treasured place on the shelf where it can be grabbed and pored over at leisure, this a book that has a lot to offer. Good for middle grade readers and up, this is one that can be appreciated as thoroughly by an adult audience.
I’ve a video for this one as well:
What are your favorite wordless stories? Comments welcome!