I’ve covered wordless picture books on Book Monsters before in my blog post:
– There are no words …
This was my first dive into the world of wordless books, and something I was a little tentative about. However, I’m coming across more and more of these books at the library and they are taking Twitter by storm. My first twitter post announcing the arrival of the three books I’m going to look at today is probably one of my most shared book related tweets ever! It sparked a huge amount of interest and discussion. Teachers and library staff are recognising the value of books without words, and actually, so am I!
So here are another three fantastic examples!
First up, a duo, Dog on a Train and Dog on a Digger, both illustrated by Kate Prendergast and published by Old Barn Books.
Dog on a Train is the first book, which has already been released, and follows a beautiful little white dog as he chases his owner through commuter traffic in order to reunite him with his hat!
It seems like a very simple story, and yes, in many respects it really is. However, this story is told purely through illustrations and as such you can make the story what you want. You can tell a simple tale of a dog, loyally chasing his owner. Or you can look in more depth at the pictures. If you do that, then you will find other stories to be told! Tales of the people on the train, their behaviour and reactions to the little dog. The dog’s behaviour towards them. I have said it before, but this is what is wonderful about books without words. The story can be told by you and your child. There’s no age limit really, there’s no ability barrier, everyone and anyone can participate in such books.
Kate Prendergast’s illustrations here are monochrome mainly, with a splash of red from the hat, showing it’s importance in the whole story. They are sketchy and soft, very calming to look over and so atmospheric, but with enough detail and interest to spark children’s imagination and create discussion over what is happening on each page.
Ideal for introducing younger readers to wordless books in particular, Dog on a Train is simply lovely. A charming tale of kindness, loyalty, perception and those potentially traumatic rush hour journeys to work!
Dog on a Train is available now from all good bookshops and libraries.
First he was on a train, now he’s on a digger!! The sequel to the above book Dog on a Digger is an equally enchanting and compelling story.
This time our familiar, faithful friend is at work with his human. We follow their daily routine, which in itself is really quite endearing, but then the story takes a twist, when Dog’s new friend, a small shaggy puppy goes missing, he uses all his guile to save the day. It’s like Lassie without all the talking!
This second book in the Dog series is again, wonderful! I think maybe even better. It contains all the simple charm of Dog on a Train, but this time with even more complex storytelling ready to be explored and narrated by readers.
Kate’s illustrations follow the same black and white style, but this time splashes of yellow are thrown into the mix. The setting, lighting, environment is perfectly represented here. This, what looks to be a scrap yard of some sort, seems exciting and appealing. I know young digger fans (of which there are many) will adore this book!
Dog on a Digger contains even more detail, even more excitement and adventure and even more scope for discussion and storytelling than the previous book, taking it to the next level and allowing children to develop their skills gradually across the books. Very clever stuff!
Dog on a Digger is released on October 7th 2016 and the two Dog books together make a perfect developmental, storytelling combo!
You can read all about illustrator Kate Prendergast on her website:
Next in my wordless picture book coverage is the glorious Bee & Me illustrated by Alison Jay and published by Old Barn Books.
Although Bee & Me has been published by Old Barn Books, as the Dog books above, this is a completely different wordless picture book in style and story.
This story was inspired by actual events, when a bee swooped into Alison Jay’s office one day and landed on her desk. She revived the bee with sugar water and he went on his merry buzzy way, but a story idea was now in her head and ready to be brought to life!
Well Alison has certainly brought it to life in a most vivid, colourful and brilliantly surreal way! In this book, a little girl is the one who is initially frightened by the bumbling bee, but soon realising that he is harmless and exhausted, she rescues him with sugar water and sets him free. Before long, the bee is back and a gorgeous, yet unusual friendship develops between the pair. We follow them through this silent book as they have fun together and then carry out the more important and serious job of a bee!
The illustrations in this book are full of life, colour, joy. When you think of bees, you think of flowers and when you think of flowers you think of colour. That’s what you get here. A great technicolour explosion, but done in a soft chalky style that’s gentle on the eye. The pages are packed with detail which again allow you to tell as much of the story as you want. To explore a whole World in as much detail as you please. It’s really very beautiful. I particularly adore the above semi-circular illustration showing bee and his friend collecting seeds and pollen to spread. It’s gorgeous to look at, and again provides a lot of detail to discuss and explore.
Bee & Me is a beautiful tale of the bees, their role in our world and the importance of that. But it is also a story of friendship, not just between the girl and her bee friend, but a more subtle friendship that develops towards the end of the story. It’s lovely, heartwarming and full of kindness. You can’t fail to smile at this gentle and sweet book.
A fantastic addition at the end of Bee & Me is also some information about being bee aware. It shows how we can help the plight of the bee by planting flowers, and a comprehensive list of such bee friendly flowers is provided here. I really applaud this addition, and it provides the ideal chance for teachers to literally grow the ideas in this book, in their school garden or at home!
Bee & Me is available now from all good bookshops and libraries.
You can find out more about publisher of these wordless picture books Old Barn Books here:
So, finally, people have been asking me what age these books are for. Well, I’m a very strong believer that books can span any age at all if used in the correct way, particularly picture books. So typically we’d be looking at 3/4 years and above. But wordless picture books like these can be used with much much older children to encourage and develop their group discussion skills, storytelling and writing ability. There are no limits on these and certainly no age restrictions!
Wordless picture books can be a daunting prospect for some people, but I strongly believe they are a brilliant way to enjoy and explore books from your own angle. The brilliant thing about wordless picture books is that you do not need to tell the same story twice. Allow your children, or even yourself, to find your own storytelling voice. To play around retell and enjoy being the author and narrator with pictorial guidance! This is a fantastically freeing way of enjoying books.
They also have a very important role in supporting children and adults alike who suffer from dyslexia. I have been asked by parents who struggle with dyslexia and reading to their young children, to recommend suitable books. It’s tricky, because in the picture book market there are not many options that address this challenging issue. But wordless picture books are open and accessible for everyone! There’s no fighting with words here, just glorious artwork providing the story for you to tell.
Thank you for reading this Book Monster review.