Monday, October 26, 2009

I have no words

Last fall I was beginning to explore ideas for my Plan of Concentration project in the world of children's books and attended a book making workshop with Linda Lembke of Green River Bindery. At that point it was my intention to create my own wordless picture book using my own photographs to tell a semi-autobiographical story. The original concept was a little too much to execute in the time I had, so the eventual product was simplified considerably (result is the purple book with the leaves at left). Now apart from the fact that the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (BMAC) is awesome (It's one of the things that enamored me to Brattleboro in the first place, thanks to an Andy Warhol exhibit) there's the fact that I love children's books and bookbinding as an art. So, all of this led to my being at an exhibit of artwork from Kaori Hamura's book Dream Seasons, a wordless narrative illustrated with stylized paintings on wood (if you like paintings on wood, also check out Audrey Kawasaki). The exhibit also included a list of other wordless children's books and related works, and I thought I'd share some of it here. The list was originally produced by BMAC, but I'm adding a few books of my own, as well.

Wordless Children's Books
David Wiesner is pretty good at purely illustrated stories, and wildly popular, too. My favourites are Tuesday, and Sector Seven, but there's also Flotsam and Free fall and a few others. He's very adept at putting the extraordinary into a context that makes it seem quite, well, ordinary, as in the cloud factory in Sector Seven, but while maintaining a sense of wonder, as in Tuesday.

Chris Van Allsburg put together a book of illustrations that are explained only by a single line of text that merely alludes to a greater, unknown story and inspires plenty of speculation among readers. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick goes under wordless books for me because so much of the value of the book comes from what the reader's mind creates to fill in the whole story behind each illustration.

The Arrival
by Shaun Tan is just a plain beautiful book. It's more of a graphic novel, with many, many detailed illustrations in order to get the story across, but still with plenty of room for imagination (which is what I think wordless books are really all about).

A few more, which you may look up on your own (builds character):
Home, by Jeannie Baker
Museum, by Barbara Lehman
Oops, by Arthur Geisert
The Red Book, also by Lehman
The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs
Trainstop, also by Lehman
Un-brella, by Scott Franson
Yellow Umbrella, by Jae-Soo Lui

If you're into this sort of thing, go check out the tag lists for Wordless, Stories Without Words, and Wordless Books on LibraryThing.

Do you prefer book links to LibraryThing or to Amazon? I think LT provides more information on a book, but if you want to go buy it right away you might want Amazon. However, I highly recommend hunting down books at your local bookshop, or at least clicking through a website like FlashlightWorthy, which provides awesome books lists and could use some support. If you're actually reading this, why not comment? Comments are constructive!

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