Welcome to this rather different Book Monster blog today. I’m going to be looking at the wonderful world of wordless picture books!
I’m a word person, I love words, love talking, love reading, and so I’m going to confess here that wordless picture books didn’t initially attract me, maybe even scared me a little. I was going to need some persuading. However, very recently, in my library, I happened across a few wordless picture books, all published by Walker which turned my head. They were quite beautiful, profound actually. And, so here I am, doing something I didn’t think I’d ever actually do, reviewing 3 wordless picture books!
The 3 books are a series, all illustrated by Aaron Becker and published by Walker. The first is Journey, then Quest, and due for release in but a few days the pinnacle of the three, Return.
So, where to start! Well, with the plot I suppose. It all starts with Journey, a young girl, is feeling lonely and left out, in her room spots a red crayon lying on the floor. She uses it to draw a door, which leads into another World. She travels through the World, using her red crayon to draw different forms of transport to help her along her journey. She bravely risks everything to rescue a captured exotic purple bird, belonging to a young boy with a purple crayon.
For the second book Quest the story starts to get more complex, the same girl is now joined by her friend, and between them they are swept up in a quest to rescue a captured king. The boy uses his purple crayon to draw animals who help them along the way, aided again by the girl’s transportations.
Finally for the final part of the trilogy, Return, the girl is back home and lonely once more, distant from her busy father, having experienced a life of excitement and adventure. She decides to escape once more to her exciting World of magic and friends. Only her father can be the one to persuade her to return home, but is he too distracted to realise this?
I realise these plot summaries don’t give an awful lot away, but this is what is so magical about wordless books. The story is yours to be told, yours to tell! We are the narrators. This is the pleasure of these three books. It seems, initially, like you could flick through and read these books in a few minutes, and yes, you could. But, to really get the meat of the story takes time. For instance none of the characters or places have names, so let’s name them! On each page there is a new exhilarating piece of action taking place, and yes you can just read it with your eyes, but how much fun would it be to tell the story yourself? I looked through all three books initially, and then went back and narrated the stories out loud to myself. Not only did I find myself spotting so much more detail in the pictures by doing this, but it added another dimension to the books. It gave me power over the story. How often does that happen? Never! We are told the story in picture books, we rarely get chance to tell it ourselves with the aid of gorgeous illustration. It’s a very wonderful feeling of freedom!
I terms of sharing you don’t get better than this. Without the barrier of not being able to read, young children can share these books with you on an equal footing. I can imagine a wonderful scene of parent or carer or older brother and sister sat pouring over the images deciding on the story, chatting and enjoying it. What a wonderful gift these books could give!
The beautiful images in this trilogy are a starting point, a guide. They’re incredibly detailed and beautiful to look at, it’s up to you where you take them, how you interpret them. That is a special thing.
Without words, the illustrations must stand out, and in this trilogy they really are something quite exceptional. Stunningly rich colours, glorious detail and lighting effects all working together to create an incredible depth and atmosphere. All three books have this, but I’m going to focus in on Return because Aaron Becker has truly excelled himself with this one. He has created a magical and beautiful World here, each page sucks you into the kingdom, artwork that you’d be very happy to display on your walls at home. He takes us on a journey from the girl’s home into forest, castle, underwater and caves each with its own unique feel and each utterly completely enchanting.
From initial tweets about these books it became apparent that they are used commonly and very effectively in schools. Creative writing. Storytelling. Drama. The possibilities are endless here. Knowing how imaginative and creative children can be I expect the results from lessons using these books could be quite wonderful.
So, Journey, Quest, Return, an incredible, special trilogy bursting with new Worlds, heart, kindness, adventure all packaged up with stunningly beautiful illustrations, just waiting for you to add the words. This book monster has been convinced!
Watch this stunning trailer for Return which will be released on August 2nd.
You can purchase Journey, Quest and Return from all good bookshops and libraries! Please put them on your shopping list.
Aaron Becker has a more text heavy corner on the internet right here:
Walker Books can be found right here:
Thank you for reading this wordy Book Monster review about some wordless books.