Saturday, June 7, 2014

More wordless wonders

My oldest daughter is 4 and while she loves books, she can't read yet. So it is quite a treat when we find a really good wordless book, which Dad can "read" through with her the first time, and which she can then read through on her own, or to her little sister many times afterwards.

More and more of these "wordless wonders" are being made, so I thought I would share a couple of my favorites here. Be sure to also click on the "wordless" in the tag cloud in the righthand column of this page to find others.

The Hero of Little Street
by Gregory Rogers
32 pages / 2012 / Hardcover

This one is a favorite for me because it has a Dutch flavor (and so do I). The story begins with our hero – a little boy with a Charlie Brownesque look about him – managing to lose a trio of bullies by popping into a museum. Since he's there, the boy decides to take a look. And after he contemplates some modern art pictures and sculptures he comes across a room full of masterpieces, including Jan van Eyck's Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. While passing by the piece our hero catches the eye of the Giovanni's little dog, and down he comes, right out of the painting! 

Jan Van Eyck's original (left) and a couple frames from Gregory Rogers (right) showing his version
The two of them then dance and jump and chase one another through the museum, until they come across a sheet of music lying on the ground. Where did it come from? Ah, wait! The two of them notice that it must have been dropped by that lady at the piano - that lady in Jan Vermeer's painting Girl at Piano. So in they jump, right into the picture, and return the music to the grateful girl.

This leads to some more dancing, accompanied by the girl at her piano, before our hero and his dog head off further and deeper into this painting, opening a door and entering Little Street, Deflt in seventeenth century Holland!

To say this is an inventive book really doesn't suffice! An art loving parent could use this to introduce their children to some of the masters, and anyone of a Dutch heritage could use it to show what the Netherlands looked like back three centuries ago. And young children love it for the sheer rollicking adventure. It ends with our hero back in modern day, but now equipped by his time-traveling artistic adventure with just the tool he needs to help him with those bullies.

You can buy it Amazon.com here (clicking here will also help support this site, as Amazon will send us a small percentage, at no cost to you).

The Boy and the Airplane
by Mark Pett
40 pages / 2103 / Hardcover

This is a simple enough story - a boy gets a toy airplane as a present and an errant throw results in the plane getting stuck on the top of a roof. We then get to see him try everything from a ladder (too short) to a lasso, to a pogo stick, to try and recover his plane. But when nothing works the boy settles on a long term strategy that, while it will require patience, is sure of success: he plants a seed and waits for it to grow into a mighty tree that will be tall enough for him to climb and recover his plane.

Whoops!

I am not going to spoil it here by telling you the end, but it is sweet, and completely satisfying. This was just a joy to read with my little girl!

I will note it is a pretty quick read, so it might be a good one to borrow from the library, rather than buy... but if you do want to buy it, you can find it at Amazon.com here. The author has also made a worthy sequel, titled The Girl and the Bicycle.

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