Posts Tagged ‘Wordless picture books’

Small things

By Mel Tregonning

ISBN 9781742379791

Allen&Unwin

9781742379791-2

 

I have had this book at home for some time now but I have struggled to write this review. I struggled to find words  that would adequately do justice to this book’s beauty. It is one of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. It is a wordless graphic novel for older readers and throws such a punch that I was left breathless. This book hits us with everything it has. Quality, beauty, sadness, hope all woven together with the most stunning illustrations.

Mel Tregonning’s illustrations capture feelings with such honesty that it is at times confronting. A young boy  is obviously so overwhelmed by his feelings of inadequacy and isolation that his world begins to fall apart. Indeed, it is the young boy himself who begins, bit by bit to crumble. His growing sense of sadness and loneliness is so raw and real it begins to eat away at him. At times when he is desperately trying to fit in, he fumbles, feeling others laughing at him and starts blushing. Despite the illustrations being black and white, Mel Tregonning captures his embarrassment through clever shading and we can feel his pain acutely. 

I so wanted to grab this boy, pull him out of the dark pages and his dark world, hold him close and hug him forever. He situation is so real and sadly all too common. However, there is also hope and the lovely sense of a friendship just starting to bud. 

I strongly believe this book is bound for all sorts of awards and deservedly so. It is with such sadness that the illustrator who died in 2014 will not be around to see the impact her beautiful book has had.

Much has been made of the fact that Mel Tregonning took her own life but rather than focus on this I want to point out that the author and illustrator Shaun Tan illustrated the last three illustrations to complete this book. For me, this highlights the fact that at times we all need help and is one of the most powerful messages in this book. 

Yes, this book moved me to tears but it is a book and story we need to read. We need to talk about depression, loneliness, sadness and how to deal with these issues. It is not for young readers. I will restrict this book to year six only (10 years up). There is so much to unpack and discuss with this book. For teachers and parents it is a great book to use to begin those awkward conversations that if left unspoken, could become worse. Sometimes, all we need to know is that we are not alone and that others feel the same way we do.

I love this book for so many reasons but mostly for its gutsy honesty and the message that we need to reach out, either for help, or to help.

Teacher notes available here for both primary and secondary schools.

The only child

By Guojing

ISBN 9780553497045

 

only child

This is an absolutely beautiful book. I have had it for awhile and just keep dipping in to it again and again to marvel at the illustrations. It has been said it is a mixture of Shaun Tan’s Arrival and Raymond Briggs The Snowman, and I completely agree. What they all have in common is the wordless story with wonderful illustrations that put them in a league of their own as far as picture books are concerned. This is a wonderful example of imagination and adventure and lovely emotional connection to the “only child”. An only child is left alone while her mother goes to work. After playing on her own for awhile she decides to take a trip to visit her grandmother. However, soon after leaving the safety of her home, she ends up lost and alone. We can feel her growing sense of loneliness. Her sense of wonder and awe when a stag takes her flying through the sky, is palpable. The dark tones, the mood and atmosphere of this picture book ring true even in a world of imagination. Love, love, love this book to bits.

This truly is a beautiful book to treasure. I can’t wait to see more from this very talented artist.

Return

By Aaron Becker

ISBN 9781406368437

 

So excited about this upcoming book. Not out until August but I am already hanging out for this book now. I love the first two books and have no doubt I will fall in love with the third book in this trilogy of wonderful wordless picture books. Despite having no words these stories say so much. The use of sepia tones to start at the very beginning in Journey through to the red and bright colours so symbolic of so many things. Imagination is such an important part of these books and the best thing is that imagination feeds upon itself and by the time you finish reading these books you have experienced an amazing journey. You have found new friends to travel with and experience adventure and fun.

Gorgeously illustrated and thought-provoking these books are a delight to read over and over again. Lots of sophisticated thinking happens when using these in class as teachers at my school of employment, tell me. While you are waiting for Return to be published do make sure you find copies of Journey and Quest if you haven’t read them already. This very cool book trailer is copyright of the publishers, of course. Walker Books and Candlewick Press.

Journey
by Aaron Becker

Journey is a beautifully illustrated wordless picture book. Its wonderful sepia tones capture the heart and imagination of a young girl who is bored. No-one in her family wants to play, they are all too busy. The young girl takes a crayon and begins drawing, opening up a world of imagined places. I love how the colours start to play together as her imagination takes over.
This really is a journey into strange worlds; even a little steampunkish with airships floating across the skies. We travel along with the young girl as she takes us to faraway places and even danger. The trailer is gorgeous. There is lots to look at and lots to discuss with this book on so many levels. Any child reading, will no doubt add to the story of the little girl and her journey across the world of imagination.
I bought this for the school library but will end up getting my own copy too. It really is a book to treasure and dip into again and again.