May 13, 2013

Take My Breath Away

So I’m stuck in bed with the flu and thought that this would be an appropriate time to write about wordless picturebooks. Probably not the best reason I’ve ever had but bear with me…I have the flu.

Since picturebooks are equal parts words and pictures (or they’re supposed to be, anyhow), removing the words from a picturebook seems like it would throw off the balance of the book, make it an easier and quicker read for a child (or adult enthusiast). And yet, if done correctly, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all: wordless picturebooks have the ability to encourage a much stronger interaction between the reader  (or beholder as we might call her in this case) and the illustrations and because the only way to fully understand the narrative is to understand what is happening in the illustrations.
There are a few illustrators out there who are extremely familiar with the wordless picturebook. DAVID WIESNERBARBARA LEHMAN, and SUZY LEE to name a few, have each created award-winning books that tell their characters’ stories without the use of words. Readers get drawn into their illustrations to understand the narrative of the story, making the book more interactive.
Some other awesome wordless picturebook include THE CONDUCTOR BY LA√čTITIA DEVERNAYTHE LION AND THE MOUSE BY JERRY PINKNEYA BALL FOR DAISY BY CHRIS RASCHKATHE BOYS BY JEFF NEWMANMIRROR BY JEANNIE BAKER, and THE ARRIVAL BY SHAUN TAN. Each of these books successfully conveys a story without the use of words and creates a deeper connection between the beholder and the artist, forging a connection between the two.
There are some absolutely beautiful wordless picturebooks and I’m definitely only naming a few of them. What are your favorites?
Never wordlessly yours (seriously, I have witnesses),

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