I Got It! by David Wiesner

Published by Clarion Books

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Summary:  In this almost-wordless picture book, a boy convinces a slightly bigger kid to let him play baseball.  He’s sent to the outfield, and soon a ball is heading his way.  “I got it!” he calls, and immediately, a series of outcomes starts playing out in his mind.  The first is pretty straightforward: he trips over a root, falls on his face, and his teammates cringe in disbelief.  As the ball moves closer and closer to his glove, his imaginings get wilder: he pictures himself colliding with a tree; shrinking so that an enormous ball looms over him; flying with birds over the heads of his oversized teammates.  And then–”I got it!”–he catches the ball.  The other kids cheer wildly, and the boy walks off the field with them, confidently tossing the ball into the air.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Another (almost) wordless wonder from Caldecott medalist David Wiesner.  Readers will need to look closely to understand what is going on, but they will be rewarded with a happy and satisfying ending.  As always, the illustrations are gorgeous and wildly imaginative.

Cons:  I didn’t get it; I had to read reviews to figure out what was going on.  Once I understood the concept that the boy was imagining different outcomes, it all fell into place for me, but I’m guessing many kids will need some help understanding this.

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Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

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Summary:  In this nearly wordless picture book, Grace is determined to help her friend Gus, the class guinea pig, get a new friend.  After school, she does her homework, eats dinner and helps her dads do the dishes, says good night, then climbs out of her bedroom window, violin in hand.  Her first stop is a subway station, where she opens the violin case and performs; from there, it’s on to Central Park to draw caricatures; finally, she returns to the subway, where she breaks into an impromptu dance routine on the train.  People cheer and give her money for all her efforts, and the next day, she is able to fill the “Gus Buddy Fund” jar in her classroom.  The final page shows Gus with his new guinea pig friend.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  There is so much to look at in this book that will be fun for children and adults.  Look for Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Donald Trump, Tintin and Snowy, Charlie Brown, and Calvin’s friend Hobbes in the pictures.  Grace herself looks a lot like Marcie from Peanuts.  Keep an eye peeled for other details like a “Jimmy Hoffa Found” headline and the “Tax Relief” billboard behind Trump.  Once is not enough to catch all that this book has to offer.

Cons:  Many of the allusions that adults will enjoy will go right over the heads of most kid readers.

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Red Again by Barbara Lehman

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Summary:  A lot has changed since 2004, but the wordless Red Again picks up right where that year’s The Red Book left off.  A boy on a bicycle finds the magical book and takes it to a cupola at the top of his house to read it.  As he studies a map of some islands, the illustrations zoom in to a girl fishing from a rowboat, a red book floating behind her.  When she opens the book, she sees the boy’s house, and eventually, the two are face to face through their books.  With the help of a loaf of bread and a pelican, she zooms through the water to meet her new friend.  In his excited rush to greet her, he drops the book.  It ends up in a snowbank, where it is picked up by…well, I can’t tell you everything.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  The Red Book won a Caldecott honor, and this sequel is a worthy successor.  There is a lot to look at in the deceptively simple illustrations that celebrate books and friendship.

Cons:  Some of the connections within the book and between the two books might blow your mind a little bit.

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Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

Published by Roaring Brook Press

Summary:  Two boys are drawing lines in this wordless book, their backs to each other.  When they bump into each other, they connect their lines, and the line becomes a string.  The string is fun to play with, until the play turns mean.  As they engage in a tug-of-war, a chasm appears, gradually widening and pushing them further apart.  A shared smile creates the means for closing the gap, turning it into a path that they can travel on together.  48  pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This simple story and black-and-white illustrations could be a starting point for all kinds of discussions about friendship and conflict resolution.

Cons:  A review I read mentioned color in the illustrations, and there are colors in the picture (above) that I found online, but the copy of the book I had was all in black and white.

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The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (The Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

Published by Little, Brown

Summary:  In this nearly wordless book, a cat runs away and gets chased by an alligator, bear, and chicken (in that order).  The story unfolds alphabetically, but kids will have to figure out what the word is for each picture.  There’s a happy ending, as a unicorn distributes valentines; the cat waves goodbye to his friends, uses an X on a map to get home, gives a gigantic yawn, then catches some zzz’s.  The whole alphabet is listed on the last page, along with a list of all the words shown in the story.  48 pages; ages 3-6.

Pros:  An intriguing introduction to the alphabet, engaging readers who will have to both figure out the word for each letter and the story those words are telling.

Cons:  The title doesn’t exactly roll right off your tongue.

Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio

Published by Chronicle Books

Summary:  In this wordless picture book, a crocodile wakes from a happy dream of living in the jungle, then gets ready for his day.  His morning routine is shown in detail, starting in his apartment where he dresses in natty business attire, then moving to his walk and train ride to get to work.  He window shops and get splashed by a passing motorist.  He buys a newspaper and some flowers, which he later delivers to a young lady.  Finally, he arrives at work, where he makes a quick clothing change and takes his place at his job…you may be surprised to find out what it is!  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  I’ve mentioned before my love of wordless picture books, and this one has so much to see.  There are many details on each page, including other animals mixed in with the humans.  The two-page spread of the crocodile on the subway deserves at least a good five minutes’ perusal.

Cons:  This book doesn’t seem to be getting much promotion.  I couldn’t find reviews for it anywhere.  Maybe because it’s an Italian import?

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

Published by Schwartz & Wade Books

Summary:  A little girl takes her favorite stuffed fox to school for show-and-tell in this wordless picture book.  After school, she goes to the playground, her fox sticking out of her backpack.  As she’s swinging, a real fox comes along, takes her stuffed one, and heads off into the forest.  She runs after the fox; her friend sees her go and follows her  The two combine forces, and eventually discover a woodland world populated by many different animals.  After a long, convoluted search, they find the fox, who really just wants a stuffed fox to love.  The girl and the fox make a trade, and there is a happy ending for everyone.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A seemingly simple tale opens up a whole new world in this beautifully detailed wordless book.  Kids will find the animals’ community enchanting, and will discover something new with each repeated reading.

Cons:  Plan on spending a long time with this book.