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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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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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.
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?
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.
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary: In this almost wordless book, a girl starts spying on the boy who’s just moved in next door. She sees him reading a book, then removing part of the wooden fence between their houses to nail rungs on to a tree. Stealthily following him up the ladder, she discovers him scratching his head over plans for a tree house. She pulls a hammer out, and the only words in the book appear. “Hi.” “Hi.” The two of them get to work, and before long, a house begins to emerge. As they build, splashes of color appear in the previously black-and-white illustrations. On the last page, they wave from the yellow-lighted windows of their houses, the completed treehouse standing between them. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Pros: A simple story of friendship, told entirely in the beautiful watercolors of Daniel Miyares.
Cons: Kids, don’t try unsupervised hammering and sawing at home!
Published by Tilbury House Publishers
Summary: An old man wakes up in his house on an island. He sees a bottle bobbing in the sea with a piece of paper inside. Removing the paper, he begins to draw, creating a picture of a magical-looking flying ship. He puts the picture back in the bottle and returns it to the ocean. A boy walks to his home in the city, where he finds an envelope outside the door. Inside is the old man’s picture. He draws himself and his cat in the ship, then goes to bed. Next, he and the cat are on the ship flying toward the island. When they get there, he and the man embrace, then the boy gives him the picture with his additions. The man waves as they fly away. The man gazes at the picture of the boy as his candle slowly goes out. In the morning, the boy awakens to a new day. 80 pages; grades 2+
Pros: Wow! What does it mean? This lengthy wordless picture book could be interpreted in many different ways. Kids and adults alike will enjoy puzzling over the illustrations to create their own stories.
Cons: It looks like a picture book, but this will be appreciated more by an older audience.