The Read Balloon: Picture Books Without Words

Wonder Bear, by Tao Nyeu. The only bear Harper has ever not been afraid of.

There are few things that make us happier around here than a new stack of library books, all fresh and unread and fragrant of plastic covers and other kids’ boogers. But I have to admit, we have checked out some real losers. Once, sure, I used to look up books ahead of time, read children’s book bloggers’ recommendations, put appropriate reading material on hold, or at least pre-screen at the library. But these days every trip to our local branch is a hectic dash involving Ollie making avalanches of board books before toddling over to the evil bank of computers where inevitably some big kids are playing video games while Harper finds every single book she can find about ballerinas, and I frantically try to grab something that looks interesting, and we end up with books that mention terrible things like death and sibling rivalry.

Still, there is nothing like the joy of finding a great book completely by accident. The other day Harper was sifting through our newest haul and came running. “Mama! It’s one of those make-up-a-story books!” She LOVES make-up-a-story books. You know, those great wordless picture books that allow a child to invent her own story, by which I mean tyrannize her parents into telling stories until their tongues turn to wood. These books are so fun; they allow Harper’s crazy imagination to run wild;  I especially love them for their “Here, entertain yourself while I change this horrifying diaper” properties. Our most recent and thrilling finds were The Red Book and The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman — both amazing, evocative, and with that quality of adventure I want my kids’ childhood to have but maybe without the wandering down sewer pipes kind of thing. Still, lovely and surreal and mind-bending — like Haruki Murakami for toddlers.

The Red Book, by Barbara Lehman. Every time we look at the gorgeous page where the girl buys a huge bunch of balloons and takes off, Harper says, “That is not a safe idea!”

We’ve also loved The Adventures of Polo, by Regis Faller, The Wonder Bear, by Tao Nyeu, A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog, by Mercer Mayer. That last one is totally a lie, actually — I loved it but Harper was not that into it. But you get what I’m saying. Wordless picture books. Good stuff.

Any others we should check out? Maybe I’ll even actually reserve them at the library like some sort of thinking, planning fancy pants person.

6 responses to “The Read Balloon: Picture Books Without Words

  1. Hey! I played in the sewer pipes! (We lived near a mostly dry drainage basin, and we’d walk right into the 3-foot-diameter pipes and shout up to people in the neighborhood. Not a safe idea! These books are much better ideas for our sons and daughters! Thank you for advancing society, one book review at a time.

  2. The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard, by Gregory Rogers. (Though Harper’s not a fan of bears, I see.) They’re all running through Shakespeare’s London.

    Tuesday, by David Wiesner; also Flotsam, and Free Fall, all by him. Highly recommended — bizarre and very cool.

  3. Pingback: 3 Chapter Books for 3 Year-Olds | household words – amy shearn and her blog.

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