Skip to main content

Quest, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker



Journey by Aaron Becker was definitely one of the most exciting picture books of 2013 and I was thrilled when it won a Caldecott Honor in January of this year. As someone who has read books out loud professionally and parentally for over 20 years and as someone who holds a deep appreciation for picture book illustrations, wordless picture books have always held a special place in my heart. And head - it takes more than a little thinking and planning before reading a wordless picture book to a group of little listeners. One of the first articles I wrote for this blog was How to Read a Picture Book Without Words (Out Loud). While there is much to be gained from the quiet fascination that comes with "reading" a wordless picture book on one's own, there is also much to be gained from the communal experience of "reading" a wordless picture book with a group, interpreting and enhancing the story together. Aaron Becker's books have so much to offer to a singular reader devouring Journey and the sequel, Quest, alone, and even more when experienced together.

The protagonist from Journey, a lonely girl who discovers a red crayon with magical capacities and a friend along the way, returns in Quest. As does their travel companion, an exotic purple bird. While getting out of the rain under a bridge, a king bursts through a door pleading, silently, for their help before he is dragged away by a band of soldiers. He leaves them with an orange crayon to add to their collection and a strange map.



 The friends soon realize what their mission is and they are off again across sweeping landscapes with stunning vistas. In the interest of building stamina in the students who visit my library, I have been reading up on this subject and learned of something referred to as the "reading zone." This space is entered when, while reading a book, the reader falls into the story and becomes part of that world so intensely that the real world goes silent. Becker, and all the best creators of wordless picture books (see below) entice readers to this state, this "reading zone," with pictures alone! And, while there may not be words, there is definitely a visual language that must be interpreted and internalized by the reader in order to follow the story and slip into the world. Sometimes this is achieved with familiar and iconic images, sometimes the characters are so compelling that the reader follows them and understands their plight implicitly, through their actions only. Becker definitely accomplishes this with Journey and now with Quest!






Find more reviews of my favorite wordless picture books HERE or visit my Pinterest board of Wordless Picture books!

Source: Review Copy



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…