I remember the first time I saw art. I was 10 years old, and my family and I had traveled to Paris. We were at the Musee d’Orsay, where I came face to face with Edgar Degas’ exquisite Dancers in Blue painting. Oh my gosh, did it blow me away. I’d seen art before, of course, but I’d never really SEEN it before, if that makes sense. I’d never had a visceral reaction to it, never realized the transcendent power of a painting to stir your soul and really make you feel. But that day, I experienced it. And I was taken right back to this memory of 29 years ago the second I picked up the stunning new picture book Imagine, by Raul Colon.
Imagine is a wordless wonder, a stunningly illustrated picture book showcasing the day one young boy discovers art. Though he has passed by museums in Manhattan many times prior, on this particular day he decides to walk in to the Museum of Modern Art. The boy studies painting after wondrous painting, until he stops at one. And as he ponders that one painting, and then another, the figures in these famous works come to life, jump off the canvases and into the real world, and join the boy on an adventure. The boy’s afternoon is thus filled with exploration and wonder as he and his new friends discover all of the excitement New York City has to offer. He is left transformed.
Oh, what a beauty Imagine is, and what a glorious tribute to the transcendent power of art. This exquisite book is a powerful way to introduce children to artistic expression and creativity as well as some of the world’s most prominent artists. The paintings celebrated within Imagine’s pages include Pablo Picasso’s Three Magicians, Henry Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, and Henri Mattise’s Icarus. The book moves fluidly from page to page, leaving readers dazzled and delighted as the boy and his new friends experience New York’s many icons. Imagine is a true beauty and a powerful testament to the power of art to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. Imagine gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from our team!
Want the book? Get it here! Imagine, by Raul Colon. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are our own.
It's Wednesday, and I decided to join in the #wordlesswednesday fun today, because I have some new gorgeous wordless books that I can't wait to share. I know, I know. Wordless books can be intimidating, no doubt. But a good wordless book is worth its weight in gold. Why? With no words, children have to study the illustrations to pick up on story elements. They use their own language to tell the story, and they experiment with beginnings, middles and endings. Through details in the story, kids pick up on important tools such as emotions, weather, and catalysts for particular actions taken by the characters. And most importantly, kids are able to use the powers of their own imaginations in connection with the illustrations to tell their rendition of the story.
Wallpaper, by Thao Lam, is an absolute wonder! This is the story of a young girl who moves with her family to a new home. Outside her window, the child sees some other kids her age in a treehouse, but she is too scared to say hello. With nothing else to do, she picks at a torn piece of wallpaper in her room, and a fantastical journey suddenly ensues. What happens when she discovers a monster on her journey? She's scared, of course, until she realizes the monster simply needs a friend. And he may be just the creature to give her a hefty dose of courage to survive her new circumstances.
If you are new to wordless books, Wallpaper is DEFINITELY one to begin with -- and I don't say that lightly. The collaged illustrations, to start, are breathtaking. Wallpaper also has a clear beginning, middle and end, making it easy for kids to explain what they believe is happening. More importantly, however, the illustrations are concrete enough to give important context, but whimsical enough that kids can be creative with the story. Wallpaper is a unique, and uniquely beautiful, approach to the classic subject of making friends, and I cannot wait to share this one with my students.
Want the book? Get it here! Wallpaper, by Thao Lam. *This is an affiliate link.
If you are interested in additional wordless books, make sure to check out our reviews for these fabulous options: Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee, and Pool, by JiHyeon Lee.
It's been a while since I've written about a wordless picture book. And now that we are heading into December, it's time to settle on the couch with your kids and Wolf In the Snow to get you dreaming of those white, wintry days. Oh my goodness. This nearly wordless picture book is such a beauty, and I can't get over the emotion that is conveyed in every one of Matthew Cordell's stunning illustrations.
In Wolf in the Snow, a girl in a red coat braves a harsh snowy day on her way home from school. But as she walks, she comes across a lost and scared wolf pup. The girl befriends the pup and what follows is her journey through the sting of winter to return the pup to its family. She travels long and far thought. So long and so far, in fact, that she loses her way. How will she ever get home?
Wordless books. I know- just the sound of them is intimidating to most. But the beauty of a wordless story is that the book comes alive in your child's hands. It's almost like witnessing magic happen, watching as your little one analyzes the illustrations, decodes their meaning, and puts words to the pictures before her. And Wolf in the Snow is the perfect hero's journey for those of you new to wordless stories. It is easy to interpret yet so richly evocative. You will be amazed at the way Cordell's simplistic drawings - done in pen and ink with a bit of watercolor- tug at your heart strings and stay with you long after the final page. Cordell is one to watch, and we here at HEE cannot wait to see what he tackles next. Wolf in the Snow is an absolute beauty, full of heart, and gets two trunks up from our team.
Want the book? Get it here! Wolf in the Snow, by Matt Cordell. *This is an affiliate link.
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What better way to celebrate the onset of summer than with a beautiful wordless book about the pool? In Pool, an underwater masterpiece written and illustrated by JiHyeon Lee, two timid kids meet under the water, where they discover a vast new world, one to which no one else wading in the pool is invited.
The story begins with a young boy standing hesitantly on the edge of the pool. All at once, he experiences a sudden invasion of swimmers, a boisterous crowd with no qualms about jumping right into the water. The boy eventually dives in, swimming far beneath the crowd who frolics on the surface, and it is in the depths of the water that he meets his counterpart. The two kids swim deeper and deeper, where they suddenly encounter a magical world of underwater creatures and glorious experiences, including a giant mythical-like creature who they gaze upon with affection. When the two eventually venture back to the surface of the water, transformed, they exit at the opposite end of the pool. And when they pull off their goggles and look each other in the eyes for the first time, the connection between the two is palpable.
Reading Pool is almost like watching a silent movie. No words are necessary to convey the childrens' emotions, the whispery environment, and the quiet connection between the kids. The exquisite artwork imparts all we need to know. And let's not forget the illustrative techniques: the loud crowd, together with their blow up rafts and toys, is depicted in black and gray line drawings, which is a stark contrast to the colorful and enchanting underworld. This is a beautiful book with illustrations Pickle loved poring over, conveying that even the seemingly ordinary can give way to something extraordinary.
Want the book? Get it here! Pool, by JiHyeon Lee
We've only recently gotten into wordless picture books, and it never fails to amaze me how books with no text can pack such an emotional punch. Marla Frazee's stunning story, The Farmer and the Clown, may just be my favorite yet. What an understated beauty! This a powerful and poignant read, so spare in its details, yet one of the most emotionally rich stories we've picked up in a while. Frazee had both Pickle and I completely mesmerized, and if you haven't yet read this book, it should skyrocket to the top of your list.
The story begins when the Farmer, working in his fields, is startled by something catapulted out of a passing train. The Farmer is even more startled when he discovers this "something" is a child - all alone - dressed in full clown costume complete with a happy, made-up face. What follows is a spellbinding tale of the Farmer's rescue of the clown and an unexpected friendship between these two superbly drawn characters; it is a remarkable exploration of loneliness and companionship.
This stirring story provides so much fodder for discussion, and the illustrations made it easy for Pickle to follow along with both the plot and character development. He loved becoming the storyteller of these pages, putting his own unique spin on each picture. The Farmer's empathy towards the suddenly lost child- and the techniques he uses to comfort the little one who he takes in and protects - are brilliant. His emotional evolution- from accidental guardian to hesitant protector to loving caregiver- is so well done, and it keeps blowing my mind how brilliantly Frazee manages to convey this transformation with such simple illustrations alone. One spread depicting the clown washing off his happy makeup, only to reveal the face of a scared child, is so emotionally resonant that it literally brought tears to my eyes. Though this is a nearly wordless book, the characters in this story speak volumes. There is no doubt in my mind that this will become a cherished classic. We had checked this book out from the library, but as soon as we finished reading it, I ordered it for our home. That's how much we loved it. And that's how it know it's one to treasure.
Want the book? Get it here! The Farmer and The Clown, by Marla Frazee. *This is an affiliate link.