Interpreting illustrations is never more important than when reading a wordless book. Stories without text―or just a few words―provide an opportunity for children to focus on meaning, characters, and plot without the impediment of vocabulary. Prior reading experience supplies the necessary verbiage to create the narrative. The power of pictures is reinforced in the following wordless tales.
PETT, Mark. The Boy and the Airplane. S & S. 2013. ISBN 9781442451230. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).
Letting his imagination soar, a little boy flies his new red airplane around his yard until it lands on the roof. Because he is unwilling to end the fun, he gets a ladder to retrieve the lost toy. Sadly, he’s not quite tall enough to reach it. Maybe he could use his cowboy lasso? If he were a fireman, his hose could knock it down. Nothing works, but he is determined to rescue his treasure. When a seed pod falls from a tree, he gets the beginnings of an idea. Will it work? Does he have the patience to wait for his plan to take root?
A timeless tale, Pett’s universal story is told in large and small panels of vintage-colored paper and watercolor. Careful readers will latch on to the circular narrative that begs to be reread.
RUNTON, Andy. Owly & Wormy: Bright Lights and Starry Nights. S & S/Atheneum. 2012. ISBN 9781416957751. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).
Mostly wordless (with the exception of sound effects), Owly and Wormy have an adventure during a scary camping trip. Unable to see the stars in their telescope, they determine that a night away from city lights might just do the trick. When rain drives them into a dark cave, the sound of “clickity click click” and the beam of glowing eyes sends them running for safer cover. Finally ready to set up camp, they realize they lost the telescope. Wormy volunteers to stand guard while Owly searches for their tool. In the dark of the woods, he gets lost and the sounds of “clickity click click” frighten him . What is following him? What will he do? Will he find his way?
In comic book-style with dark illustrations and speech thought bubbles, Runton presents another adventure for his readers, with enough mystery and suspense to inspire their imaginations.
SULLIVAN, Mary. Ball. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. ISBN 9780547759364. JLG Level: P : Primary (Grades K–1).
From the moment he wakes up, the dog can only think of one word: “ball.” His little girl is happy to comply and throws the ball over and over while she dresses for school. Panic grips his face when she leaves. What will he do now? How can he play with his ball? Mom is busy doing yoga. Baby just cries. A hissing kitty has no interest at all. Maybe a little nap with his toy will help pass the time? Will his dreams keep him busy with more adventures?
A small palette of digitally colored pencil drawings in comic book-style panels keeps the reader’s eye moving across the page. Even children without their own dogs will laugh at the antics of the over-zealous canine.
For strategies about how to use these books and links to supportive sites, check out the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.
Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.
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