Images are powerful, so powerful that people take them for truth, disregarding context or critical approach. But there are powerful images of a different kind.

After spending a day in the company of literature enthusiasts (teachers, librarians, researchers) who had fascinating and thought provoking things to say (with words!) about nothing but wordless picture books, I need to share their magic.

Wordless picture books have settled firmly in my universe of interests. Perhaps it started when I studied Children’s Literature and discovered my fondness for the picture book. The better ones offer a wonderful story and illustrations that enhance the story, by for instance alluding to an underlying story, adding quirky details or deepening the reading experience altogether. Pictures that open, deepen and layer a story = art.

When you open a wordless picture book, the pace of reading slows. Every re-reading is a discovery of more and new meanings, details come into focus, humour is suddenly obvious. My collection of wordless picture books I was rather proud of turned out to be rather pathetic (in numbers) against the thirty or so books the first presenter whisked us through. And so many more followed on that day. Why not showcasing a few of my treasured wordless picture books!

Slightly biased, I start with Belgian illustrator Leo Timmers who is pretty adept at the genre. His latest, Monkey on the Run/Aap op straat (isn’t the Dutch title snappier than the English one?), was ‘translated’ by Gecko Press in New Zealand. They specialise in discovering, then negotiating and finally translating and publishing quality children’s books originally published in other languages. When possible, I request my Flemish book buyers (aka family) to purchase the original (even when it is wordless) and send it across the world. It is worth the exorbitant cost of freight.

Konijnentango by author Daan Remmerts de Vries and illustrators Ingrid and Dieter Schubert is a very clever picture book with a surprising twist at each end of the book.

Stephen Michael King illustrated Leaf. A story about growth. His drawings ooze tenderness and warmth. I love his work.

Time to re-read Clown/Het clowntje by Quentin Blake. I have forgotten the story.  

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