Themed Reviews

Wordless Book Reviews

1, 2, 3 To The Zoo: A Counting Book
Eric Carle
   Hurry up and get aboard the train. A collection of animals ranging from one very large elephant to five pairs of birds is headed for the zoo. As each number and the corresponding number of animals is introduced, another car is added to the train running along the bottom of the page. Once at their destination, the cars are emptied and the animals take up residence at the zoo. Transformed into a board book, Carle's delightful collages are still appealing and kids will have fun naming the animals, counting them, and spotting that little mouse that appears in every scene. 1996 (orig. 1968), Putnam, $7.95. Ages 18 mo. to 3. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0399230130

1-2-3 Valentine's Day
Jeanne Modesitt
Illustrated by Robin Spowart
   Mr. Mouse carries a big red box from house to house with a valentine for the residents, his friends. From one little frog to two round pigs, and up to his own ten little mice, Mr. Mouse hands out candy, poems, a kite, a teddy bear and other items. A wordless double-page spread shows the baby mice playing with their gifts while Mr. and Mrs. Mouse hug and watch. The number is spelled out in the text while the numeral is at the bottom of the page accompanied by the corresponding number of red hearts. The illustrations are full of energy in the interaction between Mr. Mouse and his friends. The palette is soft, with lots of pink and red. The beginning two lines and the final two lines repeat on each page and will encourage young listeners to repeat them with the reader. Full of the joy of gift-giving, surprises and sharing, this makes an additional title to the available Valentine's Day books. Directions on how to make a Valentine's Day heart is at the end of the story. 2002, Boyds Mills Press, $15.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2003; Bank Street College of Education; United States
ISBN: 1563978687

10 Minutes Till Bedtime
Peggy Rathmann
   It's "10 minutes till bedtime," Father intones from behind his newspaper, but the fun is just beginning. A boy and his hamster lead a slew of arriving hamsters on the "10-minute Bedtime Tour," with stops in the kitchen (for animal crackers and fruit), the bathroom (for teeth-brushing), a bedtime story, and a final trip to the bathtub. As the hamsters trundle off, the young hero settles in for the night. Rathmann brings her delightful sense of humor and a sunny palette to the spry illustrations, which feature lots of visual jokes for attentive readers (Officer Buckle, Gloria, and Goodnight Gorilla even make special appearances). Fans of I Spy and Waldo books will love tracing the adventures of the hamsters, particularly Hamster #7, who takes pictures along the way. Hamster #6, also interesting, collects souvenirs such as toothbrushes and bananas from the tour. The book is mainly wordless, with the father's gradual countdown and occasional asides from the hamsters providing the only text. Attentive readers will be rewarded with lots of smiles. 2001, Penguin Putnam, $7.99. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Kathleen Kelly (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
ISBN: 0-399-23770-4

Anno's Spain
Mitumasa Anno
   Anno is the master of the wordless journey. This time he takes the reader on a visual tour de force of Spain. Panoramic illustrations filled with meticulous details bring to life the grace of the people, the beauty of the land, the breathtaking architecture, the richness of the culture, and the exquisite art of Spain. Keen-eyed observers will watch for the rider in blue upon horseback and pore over every double-page spread eagerly seeking him. The journey comes full circle beginning with the man in blue rowing ashore from a sailing vessel anchored in the harbor. Anno juxtaposes scenes from history with contemporary life and his miniature figures depict Don Quixote tilting at windmills, the running of the bulls at Pamplona, and open- air markets exhibiting the works of Picasso and Salvatore Dali. The integral role of the Church is related in scenes celebrating the Virgin Mary and he gives a nod to Bizet and his opera Carmen. Grand churches, humble battlefields, pastoral life, and cities alive with activity all unfold naturally as the reader is visually satiated. The rider on horseback meanders on the roads through towns large and small until at journey's end he rows out to the ship anchored at sea. Every page tells a story and each is open for discussion and interpretation. The endnotes will help the reader identify some of the places and people he has seen. The armchair tourist will not be disappointed with this trip in fact he may like so much that he will go back to it time and time again. 2003, Philomel Books, $17.99. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-399-24238-4

Baby Animals Baby Animals: Black and White
Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
   As she did in her larger award-winning picture book entitled Animals Black and White, Tildes presents a collection of attractive animals. It begins with a cute dalmation staring out from the cover. As the pages are turned, kids meet a striped zebra, an adorable black and white kitten, and others. The surprise ending in this wordless board book will give kids and parents a giggle and a smile. 1998, Charlesbridge, Ages 6 mo. to 3, $4.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

Bears at the Beach Counting 10 to 20
Niki Yektai
   This adorable counting book is unusual because it starts at 10 and ends at 20. It is a wordless book featuring pen and watercolor illustrations beginning with 10 beach umbrellas and 11 bears on the first double-page spread. The next two pages beckon the reader to find the umbrellas and bears in a beach scene. The book continues with 12 bags and 13 towels followed by another double-page with the entire cast with their umbrellas, bags and towels. The book continues to alternate pages of objects with the pages featuring the bears at play. Delightful illustrations keep the reader counting his way through the bears' day at the beach. But alas, nothing lasts forever and the bears pack up and leave their 20 magnificent sand castles to be washed away by the sea. In the classroom, this would be a wonderful counting book as well as a springboard for discussion in a thematic unit about summer. 2001 (orig. 1996), The Millbrook Press, $22.90 and $7.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewer: Julie Eick Granchelli (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Choices, 1997; International Reading Association; United States
ISBN: 0-7613-0047-3
ISBN: 0-7613-1483-0

Black on White
Tana Hoban
   Another trusted illustrator honors baby's reaction to high-contrast art with two board books for babies. Tana Hoban, well-loved for her amazing photography, composes two wordless companion books, Black on White and White on Black that give dramatic presentation to common elements of baby's world. 1993, Greenwillow, Ages 6 mo. to 2, $4.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard
Gregory Rogers
   A young boy puts on a costume for some fun in an abandoned theater. Then, as he steps out onto the stage, he finds himself suddenly transported back in time to Shakespeare's Globe Theater. His subsequent adventure in Elizabethan England is told entirely without words. Pursued by an angry Shakespeare, he sets free a bear which becomes his companion. They rescue a prisoner about to be beheaded, then have an encounter with Queen Elizabeth. Our hero is chased by the Bard right back to the Globe where, going through the curtain again, he is relieved to find himself back in the present, in this delightful introduction to Shakespeare and his time. An occasional double-page scene dramatically sets the broader scope of the tale, but it is in the myriad mostly small, six to fifteen, boxed illustrations that the frenetic action mainly takes place. Rogers's inked lines create a host of characters and a historic London which, in its comic way, leads us a merry chase. Watercolors supply the hues of costume, bear skin, stone walls, etc. The visual narrative both depicts the events and conveys the emotions that are shaping them. Page designs vary according to the action, sometimes like a story board for a film, in this fine example of telling a story entirely in pictures. 2004, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, $16.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005; H. W. Wilson; United States
   Choices, 2005; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
   Kirkus Book Review Stars, September 15, 2004; United States
   Notable Children's Books, 2005; American Library Association ALSC; United States
   Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books , 2004; Cahners; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, September 20, 2004; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, December 2004; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books, 2004; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 1-59643-009-5

A Boy, a Dog and a Frog
Mercer Mayer
   This classic wordless picture book focuses on the adventures of a young boy and his pet dog and their attempts to catch a frog. Dressed in a pair of waders and carrying a pail and net, the young boy, with his dog, marches determinedly down to a nearby small pond, where they hope to capture a frog. Unfortunately, when they reach their destination, they quickly discover that it is not going to be an easy task. After two attempts, they angrily give up and head back home. Safely perched upon his rock, the frog watches the pair slowly disappear over the hill and becomes saddened by their departure. He decides to follow the mischievous pair and traces their muddy footprints back to the boy's house, where the twosome is washing up in the bathtub. He surprises them by jumping into the water and joining in the fun. Young children will enjoy flipping through the pages of this small book and retelling their own version of the story over and over again. The delightful black-and-white artwork perfectly captures the innocence of days gone by. Mercer Mayer, a pioneer in the wordless picture book genre, has created a gem for readers of all ages. 2003 (orig.1967), Dial Books for Young Readers, $5.99. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Debra Briatico (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
ISBN: 0-8037-2880-8

Breakfast for Jack
Pat Schories
   Jack the dog's family wakes up and gets ready for their day. He waits and watches patiently as everyone, even the cat, has breakfast. But no matter how he tries to make them, nobody seems to notice that his bowl remains empty. Fortunately for the dejected pooch, as the family leaves his young master suddenly remembers and returns to feed him. The story is told completely in the lively illustrations in vignettes, single pages, and across the spreads. Naturalistic watercolor paintings show only the household details necessary for portraying the mounting emotions as family life goes on while Jack remains neglected--despite his efforts to communicate. His actions are attractively authentic; we want to get him his food ourselves, perhaps from the cans scattered across the end-papers. Another wordless adventure of Jack's is in Jack and the Missing Piece, ideal for pre-reading story-telling practice. 2004, Front Street, $13.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1932425160

Buenas Noches, Gorilla
Peggy Rathman
   In this nearly wordless book in Spanish, young children will have a good laugh as they watch the zookeeper making his rounds and wishing the animals all goodnight. The clever gorilla has swiped the zookeeper's keys and as he visits each cage, he opens it and lets the animal out. As the keeper heads for home, the animals all follow along and join him and his wife for a good night's sleep. Or so it seems until the zookeeper's wife realizes that something has gone wrong when she hears a chorus of goodnights. She takes the animals back to the zoo, but our crafty gorilla is not one to be outdone. In this board book, the illustrations convey all of the detail and humor--from the lion licking its lips over a bone to the mouse pulling a banana that shows up again and again until it is finally just a banana skin on the very last page. 2004 (orig. 1994), Putnam, $7.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-399-24300-3

Carl's Christmas
Alexandra Day
   Looking for stocking stuffers for children that are old enough for a real story, but still young enough to destroy books, try the board book version of Carl's Christmas. It is a wordless holiday romp with the mischievous baby and his beloved dog. 1992, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 3 mo. to 3, $12.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

Colors Everywhere Colors Everywhere
Tana Hoban
Hoban communicates the world in this wordless collection of photographs. A panel that filters out the component spectrum of colors accompanies color photos from the natural and man-made world. It's a dazzling display, and another winner from this talented photographer whose work catches the eyes, hearts, and imaginations of readers young and old. 1995, Greenwillow, Ages 2 to 4, $16.00 and $15.93. Reviewer: Judy Katsh

Dinosaur
Peter Sis
   This wonderful, wordless board book is all about imagination. In the tradition of Where the Wild Things Are, an everyday occurrence turns into a wild adventure. Bold gouache illustrations and a clever use of spreads pull the reader right into the bathtub with a small child and a toy dinosaur. The little bather is hardly wet when real dinosaurs begin to appear and chase each other. The perspective begins to widen, showing more and more dinosaurs (and a smaller and smaller child), until a three-page spread puts the reader into a prehistoric world complete with volcanoes, ancient vegetation, and a dozen different dinosaurs. The detailed illustrations on this spread are done in watercolor and pen and ink, setting them apart from the simple gouache illustrations that precede and follow them. As the friendly Apatosaurus splashes the bather with his tail, the reader is transported back to the bathroom just as Mother appears with a towel. Does she know that dinosaurs were just in her bathroom and her child traveled through time? Could this happen in your bathtub, too? You just might need to fill up the tub and find out. 2005, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $6.99. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Eileen Hanning (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-06-075967-4

First Snow
Emily Arnold McCully
   There has been a big snowfall and the little mice children are going to go sledding with Grandma and Grandpa. They all get into red truck and drive to the big hill, stopping to slide on the ice and to build a snowman, of course. Then it is time to climb the hill and to start sledding. It is such a long way down and someone has to go first. At last one brave mouse child sets off down the hill and soon the hill is covered with flying sleds and the air full of screams of "Wheeee!" At the bottom of the hill they realize that someone is missing. Bitty is still at the top, afraid to sled down the steep hill. Will she be able to overcome her fears and have some fun like the other mice children? In this wonderful re-release of her 1985 book the author has added some new words and pictures to create a delightful book which will surely be a firm and much loved favorite with young children who have their own little fears and who are always comforted to know that they are not the only ones who are afraid of steep hills or monsters under the bed. 2004, HarperCollins, $15.99. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Marya Jansen-Gruber (Children's Literature).

   Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully gives us a revised version of her 1985 First Snow. It is produced in a larger format, with the addition of some new pictures. She has also added words to this edition--superfluous, as it turns out, since the simple sentences ("The road is icy." "Who will go first?") are self evident, their meaning already contained within the illustrations. But McCully's little story of the sledding expedition of a large family of mice children and their grandparents still retains its original charm. Her pen-and-ink and watercolor spreads catch the joy of snow-covered, hilly fields being conquered by exuberant little ones. Her winter sunset is chillingly lovely. And her exhausted mice-children falling asleep over their suppers of hot soup will stir up fond memories in adult readers, too. 2004, HarperCollins, $15.99. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-06-623852-8
ISBN: 0-06-23853-6

Good Night Gorilla
Peggy Rathman
   In this nearly wordless book young children will have a good laugh as they watch the zookeeper making his rounds and wishing the animals all goodnight. The clever gorilla has swiped the zookeeper's keys and as he visits each cage, he opens it and lets the animal out. As the keeper heads for home, the animals all follow along and join him and his wife for a good night's sleep. Or so it seems until the zookeeper's wife realizes that something has gone wrong when she hears a chorus of goodnights. She takes the animals back to the zoo, but our crafty gorilla is not one to be outdone. In this oversized board book, the large illustrations convey all of the detail and humor--from the lion licking its lips over a bone to the mouse pulling a banana that shows up again and again until it is finally just a banana skin on the very last page. 2004 (orig. 1994), Putnam, $11.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-399-24260-0

Goodnight, My Duckling
Nancy Tafuri
   After writing and illustrating the Caldecott Honor Book, Have You Seen My Duckling? more than twenty years ago, Tafuri returns with a charming companion title, featuring her ever-popular cuddly duck family. In this delightful follow-up book, mother duck and her eight ducklings are swimming back home for bedtime when one wayward duckling becomes preoccupied with his surroundings and gets separated from the group. First the curious duckling sees a dragonfly, and then he meets up with a variety of interesting pond animals including two birds, a beaver, and a frog. As each animal bids him goodnight, the small duckling falls further and further behind. After swimming around aimlessly and looking for his family, a friendly turtle comes to his rescue and returns him to the warmth of his mother and the comfort of his cozy nest. The full-page, beautifully textured watercolors perfectly capture the gentle beauty of a pond ecosystem during the twilight hours. Young children will enjoy this tender story, which will quickly become a bedtime classic among preschoolers and their parents. 2005, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Debra Briatico (Children's Literature).

   Tafuri offers this comforting bed-time story as a companion to her award-winning Have You Seen My Duckling? As the sun begins to set, the mother duck swims her ducklings home to their nest. But one duckling lags behind. While the family swims away across the double pages, birds, a frog, and a beaver each add a goodnight wish to the wayward duckling. Suddenly, on a wordless spread, the rest of the ducks have disappeared and our little duckling is all alone on the big pond. Fortunately, a friendly turtle sees it is lost and gives it a ride back to its mother, who greets it gladly with words of love and "Goodnight." Tafuri's naturalistic watercolor drawings are the typical sweet, simplified depictions of animals that characterize her style. The very young should enjoy the quiet peace of this tale. The end-papers carry the scene through from sunset to evening. 2005, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005; H. W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-439-39881-9

The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher
Molly Bang
   I confess that at first I didn't know how to "read" The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, but now it is a book I return to again, loving its aura of mystery. Completely wordless, except for the title, this Caldecott Honor-winning book depicts an old woman clothed in grey chased by a wiley blue fellow who is after her strawberries. She leads him down mysterious hallways, on a wild bus ride, into the woods where she disappears into a grey-shadowed landscape. She seems everywhere and nowhere. In search here and there, the Strawberry Snatcher comes upon a blackberry bush and his taste undergoes an interesting change. 1984, Simon & Schuster, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum

Handsigns: A Sign Language Alphabet
Kathleen Fain
   This wordless picture book can be a beautiful resource as youngster familiarize themselves with finger signing, a manual alphabet. ASL is the fourth most common language in the US It is based on the American Manual Alphabet, 26 finger signs that correspond to the letters of the alphabet. But ASL also includes signs for whole ideas, concepts and words. Included in this book of commanding full-page artwork is a detailed explanation of ASL. (See also: The Handtalk Zoo by George Ancona and Mary Beth Miller, and The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin) 1995, Chronicle Books, Ages 7 up, $5.95. Reviewer: Deborah Zink Roffino

Hats!
Kevin Luthardt
   Artist Kevin Luthartd focuses readers' attention on the illustrations of this book, using only a few words that are strong enough to carry the reader through the story. Luthartd's style is an effective way to allow children to use their imaginations regarding what the characters are thinking. It also encourages them to exercise their skills in inference and to think for themselves as they turn the pages. The theme is one of uniqueness and acceptance. A young boy buys a red-and-blue checkered hat that he really likes, and yet another boy makes fun of him for wearing it. Luckily, the boy who has made fun of it has a sense of understanding and figures out a way to turn the situation around for the better. Luthartd's art can also be seen in community murals, art galleries, and in other children's books. His style in this particular book shows his talents; the illustrations are created with bright, attractive color combinations and his use of lines, patterns, and shadows encourages readers to take time to really pay attention to the art that creates this story. 2004, Albert Whitman and Company, $15.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Cherie Ilg Haas (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0807531715

Home
Jeannie Baker
   A young couple has moved into their new home. Theirs is a rather grim looking neighborhood with cement covering almost every surface, ugly and without a green plant in sight. We are in the house and can see them through the window standing in their gray garden, the young man and the young woman, a baby in the woman's arms. We turn the page, and once more we are at the window looking out. Now the child is splashing in an inflatable toddler pool, a little older than when we last saw her. There is grass in the small garden, a splash of fresh greenness in a man-made world. With each page turned the child is older and there is more greenery, more plants, more of the beauty of nature in the neighborhood. Slowly but surely the area is coming alive and looking less and less like a junkyard. We are looking through the same window and yet what we see is very different from what we saw on the previous pages. We are able to share the stepping-stones of growing up the girl. There is her 10th birthday when she has the flu; then there is the teenager putting on makeup as she looks out of the window. Not needing words to explain her story, the author has created a notable and unique picture book. The artwork is in collage form, each double page spread revealing a new and a very detailed multi-media piece of work. We can see the growth of the girl, Tracey, tied to the greening and blossoming of the neighborhood in which she lives. We can see the people who live in the "cement jungle" take back their streets and empty lots and turn them into a charming place to live. This is a book with a keen and warm environmental message; a message children will readily understand and appreciate. 2004, Greenwillow, $15.99. Ages 3 up. Reviewer: Marya Jansen-Gruber (Children's Literature).

   A companion to the beautiful, environmentally aware wordless picture book, Window, Jeannie Baker again shows us chronological, physical and environmental changes through a small frame, literally. On the opening page we see a small collage of two men carrying a dresser, one man carrying a T.V. and a pregnant woman standing near a door. The man and woman are obviously moving into their new home. In each subsequent page we are looking out the window into the backyard and neighborhood of this young family. The first scene shows the parent in a desolate concrete backyard, gazing lovingly at their newborn, the frame of the window has a card that reads "A New Baby...Congratulations!" Over the back fence we see an industrial, run-down neighborhood with billboards and graffiti covered walls . As time goes on the indicators on the windowsill show us how much time has passed, i.e. a mug that says "I am 4" or a note saying, "Dear June, Just imagine--I'm celebrating my 10th birthday with the flu!" while outside the yard we see neighbors cleaning up the neighborhood, trees being planted and a poster that says, "Reclaim your street." This child we have come to know grow up, gets married and has her own child all in the framework of this backyard and neighborhood. Jeannie Baker's stunning, detailed collages and her message of what makes a home and the impact we have on our environment, make this a book you'll want to revisit many times. I often advocate children's books for adults and I would definitely recommend this as a beautifully sentimental housewarming present. 2004, Greenwillow Books, $15.99. Ages 4 to 6. Reviewer: Sharon Levin (Children's Literature).

   This eloquent story of childhood and urban renewal is told, without words, through richly detailed collage illustrations. A meager, ugly city space, in which Tracy starts her life, is tended through the years by her family until it is transformed into a lush, loved environment -- a beloved home. Simultaneously, and just as gradually, her family and neighbors convert bleak, surrounding streets until they become welcoming, park-like, people-friendly and clean. Each collage looks through the frame of a window from inside Tracy's bedroom out onto her backyard below, and at yards, streets and buildings nearby. As she grows up, objects on her windowsill mark passages in her life. We see the changes in Tracy, and we also see the changes in her yard and neighborhood that she can see through her window. Pre-schoolers will find something to enjoy in the beautiful images, but the concept of urban renewal, in combination with city signage, graffiti, and Tracy's cards and letters that are incorporated into the collages, make the book more appropriate for primary and elementary grade students. With its cultural references and dual story concept, this is a rewarding book for adults and children to share. 2004, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers, $15.99. Ages 4 to 10. Reviewer: J. H. Diehl (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Booklist Book Review Stars, Mar. 15, 2004; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005; H. W. Wilson; United States
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 2005; Children's Literature; United States
   Fanfare Honor List, 2004; Horn Book; United States
   Kirkus Book Review Stars, February 15, 2004; United States
   Notable Children's Books, 2005; American Library Association ALSC; United States
ISBN: 0-06-623935-4
ISBN: 0-06-623934-6

Hot Air: The Mostly True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride
Marjorie Priceman
   Caldecott Honor illustrator Marjorie Priceman takes on the world's first successful balloon flight engineered by the Montgolfier brothers at Versailles in September of 1783. Manned--make that "animaled"--by a duck, a sheep, and a rooster, the balloon has a grand sendoff before a crowd of notables including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Benjamin Franklin. But, as Priceman so succinctly notes, "enough about them." Thus begins her animals' point of view adventure. Wordless save for a few dramatic quacks, baaas and mmmooos the bright, witty illustrations imagine what might have happened before crash down and the rescue of the brave passengers. Priceman's prefatory and concluding texts are as droll as her images, and she completes her wonderful little history lesson with endpapers outlining the history of the Montgolfiers' experiments. The book will be a joy for kids, parents, and balloon aficionados alike. 2005, An Anne Schwartz Book/Atheneum, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Kirkus Book Review Stars, June 15, 2005; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, May 30, 2005; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0-689-82642-7

Jack and the Missing Piece
Pat Schories
   Jack the dog watches as his young master and a friend build a tower of blocks. When Jack playfully knocks it over, he is ordered from the room. Just as they complete it again, in he rushes to destroy it. He is exiled behind a closed door. Meanwhile the cat has absconded with the piece that crowned the top. When the boys rebuild and find it missing, it is Jack who is scolded. He gets hugs instead, however, when he finds the piece. The action takes place along and across the pages, with no words necessary to "read" the story. Watercolors supply the necessary light-hearted visual qualities that enhance this visual tale of canine actions. While the cat snoozes and then sneaks into the game room, Jack insists on joining in, causing havoc. The double-page scene of the tumbling tower of blocks is almost monumental. The illustrations stimulate our emotions as Jack goes through the actions of a curious young dog, and we sympathize with his banishment. Jack's other adventure in Schories's Breakfast for Jack is equally engaging and useful for story-telling as preparation for reading. 2004, Front Street, $13.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1932425179

Li'l Santa
Thierry Robin, Lewis Trondheim
   Graphic novels, comic books for older readers, and wordless picture books seems to be in the forefront these days. According to the press release accompanying this holiday offering "Trondheim is at the forefront of a revolution in European comic...The 'nouvelle vague' ...these cartoonists also evolved a deceptively simple style with unpretentious yet keenly observant stories." In the first part of the story Santa is having a little trouble getting started with his daily routine, but the postal snowmen bring him lots of mail. Suddenly a fiery monster enters the scene and it takes the combined efforts of the snow postal service to vanquish it. Santa's workshop is a modern marvel, spitting out toys made from trash; when they run short, Santa makes a contribution by eating everything in his refrigerator to create the necessary trash for the final toys. The fiery monster once again appears and seems determined to ruin everything, but one of Santa's very strange good monsters puts an end to that danger. Instead of a sled, Santa sets out on a ship and manages to do plenty of good deeds for the poor when he finally arrives in town. Work done, monsters vanquished, Santa retires for a much needed long sleep. For those who like comics and wordless stories, this one, with its decidedly different look and positive message, is worth considering. 2002, Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing, $14.95. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1561633356

Looking Down
Steve Jenkins
   Looking down is a wordless book that puts "things" in perspective. The earth is a tiny blue and white ball against a dark sky, with the moon just in front. The collage art pictures move closer and closer to the earth, giving a view similar to that which the astronauts see, until viewers reach the earth and see a tiny ladybug under a young boy's magnifying glass. 1995, Houghton, Ages 4 to 8, $14.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

Magpie Magic Magpie Magic
April Wilson
   This wordless picture book is a visual delight and a fun way to teach colors to imaginative children. A child's hands draw a magpie, a black and white bird noted for its cleverness and tendency to steal brightly colored objects. The magpie emerges from the drawing page and watches eagerly as luscious red cherries are drawn, only to gobble them down once the drawing is complete. Each subsequent page introduces a new color, until finally the frustrated child tries to erase the thieving magpie. As expected, the bird is not so easily defeated. The drawings are exquisite, easing the reader into the illustrator's fantasy and perspective. 1999, Dial/Penguin Putnam, Ages 2 to 5, $14.99. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen

Middle Passage: White Ships, Black Cargo
Tom Feelings
   This beautiful wordless book captures the silent scream of Africans on their way to the institution of slavery. Using pen and ink and tempera on rice paper, Tom Feelings hauntingly captures the pain of enslaved Africans as they journeyed through the middle passage from Africa to America. He tells the story in black and gray on white. These muted colors express the story of the Africans loss of freedom. The wordless plot includes the attack, capture, forced march, branding, life in the ship's hold, death at sea and auction on land. The power of the book lies in its silence. It speaks for a people who were not permitted to speak for themselves. 1995, Dial, Ages 16 up, $45.00. Reviewer: Karen Moroughan

More, Fewer, Less
Tana Hoban
   No one would contest Tana Hoban's superb photography skills or the popularity of many of her books. However, this wordless picture book provides no more than intriguing color photographs. More, fewer, and less are quantitative concepts that many children have trouble grasping. This book would have been much more useful with captions suggesting which of the several items on the page that would be fun to examine or compare. As it is, instruction by a teacher or other adult is mandatory for any conceptual understanding. In a classroom or tutoring situation, students might enjoy counting the objects on each page and identifying the quantities of each. Children encountering this book without adult direction are likely to be completely baffled as to the purpose of the pretty pictures. 1998, Greenwillow, Ages 4 to 8, $15.00. Reviewer: Jackie Hechtkopf

Mouse Letters Mouse Letters: A Very First Alphabet Book
Jim Arnosky
   The renowned naturalist and author and illustrator of numerous nature books for children created this book and its companion, Mouse Numbers, for his own daughter twenty years ago. Working with sticks, an inventive mouse manages to form all the letters of the alphabet, not always without mishap, as the back of the "K" falls down Leaving "L," and the "T" Totters and Throws a stick across a chasm creating a "U" Upon which the mouse hangs for dear life. The masterful lines of the simple ink and watercolor drawings create a fascinating wordless story that keeps the viewer guessing what the plucky, ingenious mouse, with his (her?) amusing and endearing facial expressions and body language will do next. The book is a small masterpiece of simplicity. 1999, Clarion, All Ages, $4.95. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson

Ocean Whisper
Dennis Rockhill
Translated by Eida de la Vega = Susurro del oceano / por Dennis Rockhill; traduccion por Eida de la Vega
   Ocean Whisper is a wordless picture book with an accompanying poem written in both English and Spanish. The wordless story takes a child from bed to a place in which aquarium fish on a nightstand and whales from a poster become magical guides and playmates in an underwater dream-world. Before falling asleep, the child is shown to listen to a seashell, feed the fish, and gaze at the whales on the wall. After drifting off, the whales leave the poster and the fish spill out into a seascape. The child dreams of a world in which frolicking with whales and a swim to the ocean floor is possible and thrilling. It seems that the main character, the child, is androgynous, drawn thusly to allow the "reader" to interpret the main character as a girl or a boy. This "child-centered" approach to story interpretation is reinforced by the recommended use of the poem. According to the "Notes for using Ocean Whisper" found on the final page, the poem is meant to be read after the child has already gone through and interpreted the story, encouraging language development, imagination, and communication skills. The poem itself is mesmerizing and augments the story's beauty. The illustrations are soft, detailed, calming, and full of possibility for the imagination. This book provides a message of relaxation, care, and benevolence within the world of sleep. Although many children would enjoy it, it is perfect for children with bedtime trepidation; those who have bad dreams or are scared of the dark. 2005, Raven Tree Press, $16.95. Ages all. Reviewer: Michelle Negron Bueno (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0974199249

Of Colors and Things
Tana Hoban
   In this wordless board book, which is based on Hoban's award winning picture book, kids are introduced to colors. As each color is introduced, photographs of objects that are predominately in the chosen color fill the pages. To keep the pages from appearing cluttered, each is divided into four sections using bold lines in the featured color. 1998 (orig. 1989), William Morrow, Ages 1 to 3, $16.00, $15.93, $6.95, and $4.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

Peep!
Kevin Luthardt
   Almost no words are needed to tell the story of a young boy who happens upon an egg just as the duckling inside is hatching. The baby duck follows him home and becomes his buddy. But one day, as the duckling's "peep" has become "quack," the boy realizes that "it's time" to take his friend to join the other ducks in the duck pond. His sad loneliness is relieved, however, when he is followed home by a "mew!" The bare bones text is matched by illustrations with very few details. Doll-like, large-headed characters and a few "lollypop" trees are set in landscapes and interiors with suede-like textures. There's lots of room for the readers to enhance the story from personal experience, to tell more in their own words. 2003, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2004; H.W. Wilson
ISBN: 1561450464

People
Peter Spier
   Discussions of differences can be greatly aided by children's books and it doesn't take an older child to begin discussions. Peter Spier's nearly wordless book, People, for example, can be shared with a three-year-old and still become focus of discussion for a ten year old. The wealth of pictures discuss the uniqueness of people in terms of size, color, differing systems of taste and belief, and varying physical and mental abilities. This book can be a wonderful departure point for talking about all kinds of subjects from world peace to prejudice. 1980, Doubleday, Ages 6 to 9, $16.95 and $10.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

Polar Slumber/Sueño polar
Dennis Rockhill
   In pastel shades of blue, white, and brown, Rockhill captures our imagination with exquisitely detailed drawings of a mittened child patting a baby seal in the Artic. The child builds a polar bear out of snow, and as she looks out the window the polar bear comes to life. She dreams and her own little white teddy bear becomes a snow bear's cub and all three travel on an adventure. They meet a snowy owl, an Arctic wolf, pat a baby seal, have a tumble in the snow and see the aurora borealis. All of this happens without words. Falling asleep while it is still snowing, the child wakes to find the footsteps of the bears leading off into the whiteness. The author/illustrator includes an instruction sheet in Spanish and English to explain the small black and white pictures on each page intended to add questions a teacher might ask to help a child elaborate on the events of the adventure. This is a perfect book for teachers and parents wishing to help build storytelling vocabularies. 2004, Raven Tree Press, $16.95. Ages 4 up. Reviewer: Sue Stefurak (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0972497315

The Red Book
Barbara Lehman
   This little book, with its shiny red jacket and textured red cover, tells a magical and wordless tale about another red-covered book that a young girl finds in the snow. When she opens it in school, it seems to show her an island on which a young boy is discovering a red book in the sand. When he opens his book, he sees her city and the astonished girl, looking at him just as he is looking at her. Leaving school, she purchases two enormous bunches of balloons which carry her up into the sky. She drops the book, open to the page where the boy is shown. She then appears there on the page, carried by the balloons, to the boy's apparent delight. Then the closed book is found and picked up by a bicyclist, for an ending that leaves us to ponder what has happened and what might happen in the future. The visual narrative is told in boxes of several sizes containing rather simply conceived scenes, black outlined figures and objects filled with naturalistic colors and done in watercolor, gouache, and ink. It is easy to follow the adventure, soaring over the city's buildings to share the boy's reception of his drop-in visitor, then puzzling over what is next as the book is carried off. The powerful story requires no words at all. 2004, Houghton Mifflin Company, $12.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005; H. W. Wilson; United States
   Choices, 2005; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
   Fanfare Honor List, 2004; Horn Book; United States
   Notable Children's Books, 2005; American Library Association ALSC; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, November 2004; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor 2005 United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Red Clover Award, 2005-2006; Nominee; Vermont
ISBN: 0618428585

The Red String
Conceived by Margot Blair
Drawings by Greg Colson
   It starts out as a jumprope and squiggles across the pages of this wordless picture book becoming a clothesline, a superhighway, a telephone line, and more. The Red String is a great example of flexible thinking and would provide an excellent model for young authors and illustrators who want to exercise their ability to see ordinary objects in new and different ways. 1996, J. Paul Getty Museum and Children's Library Press, Ages 3 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Judy Katsh

School
Emily Arnold McCully
   As her older siblings leave for school, Bitty waves good-bye. When she notices that Mama is engrossed in a book, Bitty leaves the house and walks to school. Although she takes a seat, it is a while before the teacher discovers her presence. Being the excellent teacher she is, she asks Bitty to be her helper until Mama arrives to pick her up. McCully captures the innocence and wonder of the still-at-home child who longs to be with her siblings and learn what school is all about. Just as Bitty learns, so, too, will children who are going to school for the first time, for McCully cleverly presents the activities of the school day. A few simple phrases have been added to the wordless story first published in 1987. The illustrations capture the hectic morning rush and the coziness of storytime. They provide touches of humor, such as the pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and the teacher is reading one of McCully's books. Across the top of the blackboard are pictures of objects to represent some of the letters of the alphabet. Readers could complete the alphabet. With the fall foliage and football in hand, this is a satisfying addition to the back-to-school books. 2005 (orig. 1987), HarperCollins, $15.99 and $16.89. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-06-623856-0
ISBN: 0-06-623857-9

Shrewbettina's Birthday
John S. Goodall
   The artist formulated his first wordless children's books for the enjoyment of the youngsters in his own family. The format of alternating full and half pages adds interest to the detailed watercolor illustrations. As the parent or child turns the half page, or flap, the picture changes dramatically and the story line advances. The plot is evident from the pictures, allowing the child to "tell" or "read" the story in his or her own words. The book follows Shrewbettina through an entire day, from awakening in the morning to curling up to sleep at night. The day is special-it is Shrewbettina's birthday and as she set off to market, a masked bandit snatches her purse. A friend comes to the rescue, returning the purse and handing the culprit over to the police. Shrewbettina does her marketing and then goes home to prepare a festive feast for those who come to celebrate her special day. 1998 (orig. 1971), Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, All ages, $8.95. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford

Sidewalk Circus
Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes
   A child sits waiting for a bus on a busy city street when something catches her eye: a marquee saying, "Coming Soon...World-Renowned Garibaldi Circus!!!!" Or, has it already arrived? A solitary man wielding a cart of circus flyers becomes, in her imagination, the ring master, a steel worker on a high steel girder could not have a more death-defying job than a tight rope walker. The delivery man hefting a side of beef becomes the circus strong man. Lost in her world, the girl claps and cheers as a couple of skate-borders enact a slapstick comedy routine right into the fruit stand in front of Leo's Market where a circus clown poster hangs on the wall. What does this charming picture book have in mind for a dentist office, painter on a ladder, and short order cook flipping pancakes? Look for the circus poster to find out and be sure to look twice at the "performers'" shadows. Except for the posters that are part of the illustration, this book has no text, nor does it need any. The illustrations are Edward Hopper-esque with a touch of whimsy; they are lovely and spare, telling their own tales. What an enchanting book for a preschool classroom, or grandparent's house, where two generations can cuddle up to see what comes next. 2004, Candlewick Press, $15.99 and $22.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children's Literature).

   The only words in this circus story are on the marquee of the theater and on the advertising posters seen by a girl waiting for her bus across the street in a typical American small town. But a visual circus drama of sorts is going on before her eyes, a story based on the notion that circus acts are a reflection of actions of everyday life. So as the poster advertising the juggling act is put up, through a restaurant window we see the cook deftly flipping four pancakes. When the marquee flashes "The Flying Trapeze," painters are trying to keep from falling from a collapsing scaffolding, while their shadows show them swinging from a trapeze. And on down the street, posters advertise circus acts, while ordinary folks are mimicking them, and their shadows are really doing it. The man lifting a heavy load becomes the strong man lifting a bar bell; the fellow trying to stay on his ladder is reflecting the stilt-walking ad. The naturalism in Hawkes's acrylic illustrations takes it easy on superficial details; he mixes close-ups with more panoramic views to keep the action flowing. On the jacket, the poster-hanger casts a shadow of a ring-master complete with top hat and megaphone, while the imaginative shadows on the end-papers set us up for the story inside. 2004, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).

   If this book does not win a Caldecott next year then there is no justice in this world. In the stacks of books in my living room (and bedroom and bathroom and....), this one leaps out with its simple, thought provoking story, breathtaking illustrations and sparkling humor. Note above that Fleischman and Hawkes do not write or illustrate, they present. They are presenting the world as a delightful circus, if we would just open our eyes and really look. This wordless picture book starts on the title page with a gray haired, mustached man walking down the street pulling a red cart full of posters. We see him stretch in the sunlight while his shadow looms behind him looking like a circus ringmaster with a megaphone. Most of the people on the street are in muted grays, blues, greens except for one little girl who is in purple and yellow. She sits on a bench, leaning forward eagerly looking at the "mundane" morning activity happening across the street--including a light up marquee that reads, "World-Renowned....Garibaldi Circus!!! Coming Soon!..." But the circus is already here, just look! The construction worker walking on a beam is right above a banner advertising the tight rope walkers, the delivery man at the butcher shop is right next to the poster of Goliath the Strongman. We see our ringmaster paste up the poster for jugglers right outside the diner window where the chef is flipping pancakes. Clowns, sword swallowers, trapeze artists, it's all right there if you look (and have a good imagination). I also love that the shadows of the "performers" are drawn to represent them as circus people (i.e. Goliath looks like he is lifting barbells, not a side of beef). This is a book that children and adults will be able to look at time and time again and find joy and delight in every viewing. 2004, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Sharon Levin (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Booklist Book Review Stars, Apr. 15, 2004; United States
   Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 2004; Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; United States
   Capitol Choices, 2005; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 2005; Children's Literature; United States
   Choices, 2005; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
   Notable Children's Books, 2005; American Library Association ALSC; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts, 2005; NCTE Children's Literature Assembly; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, July 2004; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books, 2004; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Parent's Choice Award Recommended 2004 Picture Books United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2006; Nominee; Grades K-2; Kentucky
ISBN: 0763611077

A Small Miracle
Peter Collington
   An old woman, penniless and hungry, leaves her tiny home to trudge through the snow into town, where she tries to earn some money playing her accordion for busy shoppers. Unsuccessful, she must pawn her accordion. Tragedy strikes, but even in her despair she tries to right a wrong she has witnessed. This leads to the small miracle of the title. This wordless book conveys many strong emotions-resignation, despair, fear and joy. Reviewing the tale could spark discussion of the true meaning of Christmas and our responsibility for others. 1997, Knopf, Ages 6 up, $18.00. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen

Time Flies Time Flies
Eric Rohmann
   A bird enters the museum and flies into the dinosaur display area. It enters the skeleton and travels back in time to see the dinosaurs in their habitat. This wordless book's dramatic oil paintings conveys the message that dinosaurs may be the ancestors of birds. Winner of a Caldecott Honor. 1994, Crown, Ages 4 to 9, $17.00 and $17.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

Whatley's Quest
Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
   Whatley's Quest is ready and waiting to open up family adventures into creativity. The wordless book has colorful illustrations that are crammed with conflicts, comedy, and characters to promote wondering and offer all kinds of avenues for families to embark on their explorations. You might want to name objects on each page that boasts the same alphabet letter, but there's room also for composing silly sentences and terrific tales that span pages, or even the entirety of this joyful picture book. The pages are loaded with animated animals and personalities that romp across pages. The questing knights, whimsical wizards, juggling jesters, plucky pirates wait to transport you into lands of enchantment and family storytelling. 1995, HarperCollins, Ages 4 to 7, $15.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

Where's the Bear?
Charlotte Pomerantz
Illustrated by Byron Barton
   A young woman who is picking berries in the woods runs back to town to tell the people she has seen a bear. With tools in hand, they leave their work and follow her back to the woods. The search reveals many animals, and at last the elusive bear is sighted. The people run back to their homes as the bear pursues them. Once they are safely inside the bear has nothing to do but return to the woods. In a combination of wordless pages and simple, repetitive text, Barton and Pomerantz create just the right amount of tension in this small-sized board book. Preschoolers will be able to "read" this book to adults once they can recognize the words. For younger children, there are many things to point out and talk about in the illustrations. Highly successful when it was first published, it still stands as a good story today. 2003 (orig. 1984), Greenwillow/HarperFestival/HarperCollins, $6.99. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-06-008820-6

White on Black
Tana Hoban
   Another trusted illustrator honors baby's reaction to high-contrast art with two board books for babies. Tana Hoban, well-loved for her amazing photography, composes two wordless companion books, Black on White and White on Black that give dramatic presentation to common elements of baby's world. 1993, Greenwillow, Ages 6 mo. to 2, $4.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

Why?
Nikolai Popov
   One day a frog is peacefully smelling a flower he has just picked, when a mouse jumps out of a nearby hole and kicks the flower from the frog's hand. The mouse leaps away with the flower and the frog simply shrugs, as if to say, "Why would he do that? There's plenty of flowers here for everyone." The frog and his friends enjoy the other flowers until the mouse returns in a tank and fires missiles at them. The conflict escalates in this wordless picture book as the frogs take action to defend themselves against the aggressive army of mice. The first few pages are lush and green but as the story unfolds, the illustrations become increasingly darker until they are almost entirely black and gray. Finally, only one mouse and one frog remain on the somber battle field. Why did the frog fight back? How else could the frogs have dealt with the bullies? The message in this book is obviously that war is not the answer. In the author's note, Nikolai Popov describes some of his childhood memories that inspired this book. His images of a Nazi invaded Russia and the horrific post-war destruction are vivid reasons for creating a book about the senselessness of war. 1996, North-South, Ages 7 to 9, $15.95, $15.88 and $6.95. Reviewer: Sally J. K. Davies

The Yellow Balloon
Charlotte Dematons
   It takes several readings of this clever book to take in all that is happening. A small yellow balloon lazily floats over land and sea not only across the world, but also in and out of time periods. The adventure, like the balloon, is not constrained by earthly tethers and is wild and imaginative. In one pastoral scene there are plenty of details to keep the viewer poring over the scene, to take it all in. A busy four-lane highway borders a quiet Flemish farm, nearby 19th century townspeople bury a loved one in a churchyard, on the far right of the page medieval knights fight a grueling battle, while slightly above them Native Americans greet an army officer on horseback, and Little Red Riding Hood is at the edge of the woods with the wolf lurking nearby. As the balloon flies over the North Pole Santa can be seen loading his sleigh, Shackleton and his men are setting up camp, Inuit are building an igloo, and a ship that looks suspiciously like the Titanic is heading for the deep. The full-page watercolor paintings are teeming with people and animals and it requires visual acuity to spot the yellow balloon. The truly observant will learn early on that there is a man on a flying carpet, a blue car, and a prisoner to be found on each page also. In the vain of Where's Waldo and the "I Spy" books, this global journey is a creative and fun filled voyage. 2004 (orig. 2003), Front Street & Lemniscaat, $15.95. Ages all. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Kirkus Book Review Stars, March 15, 2004; United States
ISBN: 1932425012

Yikes!
Robert Florczak
   "I'm going on a journey through wild and dangerous places!" exclaims our intrepid young explorer, complete with hat, camera, binoculars, net, and water bottle. On each double page another wild creature is encountered in its natural habitat. The only text is the exclamation of surprise, delight, or horror of our narrator who, fleeing at the end, is seen contentedly asleep with the book of "wild and dangerous animals of the world" in his/her lap, noting "...it's good to be back home." The large double-page scenes provide a fine stage for the realistic creatures as well as the athletically responding explorer whose gestures and facial expressions contribute comic relief. For example, the really close face-to-face encounter between human and gorilla is a delightful combination of natural history and youthful wonderment. The unusual points of view add to the visual fun. The photorealistic illustrations are created in TOMBOW markers, colored pencils, and gouache; the lettering is hand-done. Small pictures of all the included creatures are identified with facts about them on the last page. 2003, Blue Sky Press/Scholastic Inc, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Choices, 2004; International Reading Association; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2005; Nominee; Grades K-2; Kentucky
ISBN: 0-590-05043-5

You Can't Take a Ballon into the Metropolitan Museum You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum
Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
   This jaunty wordless picture book follows a girl and her grandmother on a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The balloon she carries must be left outside in the care of a museum guard. The balloon floats away and causes mishaps throughout Manhattan until it magically returns to the museum and the little girl. In the interim we are treated to great works of art as well as famous sites of New York such as Lincoln Center, Tavern on the Green, Central Park, and much more. A listing of the works of art from the collections of the Metropolitan is at the back of the book. 1998, Dial, Ages 4 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman

Zoom
Istvan Banyai
   In this wordless picture book, Banyai takes readers on a visual journey, one step back at a time, to see an image in its broader context. For example, from a boy on a cruise ship, the image shifts to the whole ship, which is actually a poster, etc. Re-Zoom is a similar book by the same author. 1995, Viking, All ages, $13.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

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