The Children's Book Compass

Wordless Picture Book Gems

Posted on: October 31, 2011

Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan.  (2011).  Pages not numbered.  Roaring Brook Press.  Grades P-5.  Wordless Picture Book.

Nolan’s magical adventure starts on the title page where a young girl comes to a vacant beach to spend the day building a sand castle.  At the end of her day, she has created an enchanted castle complete with turrets and towers.  As she walks away a gorgeous sunset colors the sky.  The tide comes to wash the sand castle away.  But before it does a light comes on in the castle tower window.  It is held aloft by a tiny bearded man who joins his family in escaping the incoming waves in a small sail boat.   Gigantic waves toss the young boy in the family into the ocean.  There he meets a huge fish, sea horses and mermaids who save him and return him to his family.  The family finds refuge on a rocky island off the beach that the sand castle builder can see the next morning as she begins building another castle.  This fantastic wordless, story celebrates the beauty of the oceanic world while creating a fantasy that will endure as a classic.

Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier.  (2011).  Pages not numbered.  Roaring Brook Press.  Grades P-2.  Wordless Picture Book.

This wordless picture book has a cinematic feel as a bee and bird take off on a journey.  The camera swoops in for a close-up – the stripes in the bee’s body and then pulls back to show the bee on a large red sphere, pulling back farther with the next picture  showing the bee is on the head of a red bird.  The simple, bold graphics pull the reader into predicting what will happen next to the bird and bee.  There are surprises along the way that will surprise and delight young readers.

The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman.  (2011).  Pages not numbered.  Houghton Mifflin.  Grades 1-4.  Wordless Picture Books.

Reading  the detailed illustrations in this book is like solving a puzzle.  The illustrations require careful perusal to find the secret clues.  Three children discover a hiding place where a small box has been secreted by a boy before their time.  The artifacts including a map lead them on journey of discovery through their city and back in time to the Seahorse Pier.  There they find a gathering of children from different times and cultures.  Lehman captures the reader’s attention with various ways she arranges the illustrations.  Some pages feature a double page picture of a big scene; others show six or seven smaller action-packed frames.  The satisfying ending shows a new set of children in a future time finding the box and setting off on their own adventure.  This is a book children will enjoy looking at and sharing again and again.

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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e-mail: MarilynCaz@aol.com
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