Show But Don’t Tell: Must-Have Wordless Picture Books

 │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

For many, a highlight of grammar school was show and tell; kids spent the whole week deciding what to bring. Picture books let an illustrator show and tell as well. When the illustrations deliver a plot that needs no words, they also allow for different interpretations. As illustrator Mark Pett said, “Once your story is out in the world, it’s no longer your story.” How will your readers narrate the following new wordless books selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild? For tips, lists, and articles on using text-less books, follow JLG’s Wordless Books Pinterest board.

QuestBECKER, Aaron. Quest. illus. by author. 40p. Candlewick. 2014. ISBN 9780763665951. JLG Level: P : Primary (Grades K–1).

Continuing the journey first begun in Becker’s successfulJourney (Candlewick. 2013), Quest focuses on two friends who are sent upon a task by the king, whose land is under attack. While they hold two keys, they must find the other four in order to save the kingdom.

Readers will be delighted to view the trailer for this sequel. A visit to the creator’s website reveals his blog, biography, and the backstory for the trilogy. Fans can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Vimeo. Don’t miss Becker reading from the latest installment for tips on how to share a wordless book.

Foxs gardenCAMCAM, Princesse. Fox’s Garden. illus. by author. 32p. Enchanted Lion. 2014. ISBN 9781592701674. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).

In the dark of the night, a young boy delivers a basket of food to a new mother fox. His kindness is repaid in the fox’s magical winter garden.

Read about the Parisian-born author/illustrator on herpublisher’s website. Brush up on your French, and follow her on Tumblr and Twitter. For an in-depth look at the book, read “Fuse #8’s” blog post.

Current recognition includes: New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2014, Picture Books.

Farmer and the ClownFRAZEE, Marla. The Farmer and the Clown. illus. by author. 32p. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2014. ISBN 9781442497443. JLG Level: K : Kindergarten (Grades PreK–K).

A lone farmer takes in an unexpected visitor when a young clown falls off the circus train. The farmer does his best to take care of the little child. What follows is a surprise to both of them.

Always garnering accolades for her work, Frazee also hosts videos, interviews, and tips about becoming an artist on her website. Follow her on Twitter. She’s recently been interviewed by “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” and The Horn Book’s Roger Sutton. See a sample of the illustrations on Simon & Schuster’s website.

Current recognition includes: SLJ Best Books 2014, Picture Books; Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014, Picture Books; PW’s Best Books of 2014, Picture Books; Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2014, Picture Books.

Bow_WowNEWGARDEN, Mark & Megan Montague Cash. Bow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors. illus. by authors. 64p. Roaring Brook. 2014. ISBN 9781596436404. JLG Level: GE : Graphic Novels Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Poor Bow-Wow’s neighbors sneak into his house, stealing his doggie bed. Rather than just howl about it, the determined dog decides to take the bed back. However, Bow-Wow may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Kids can visit the official Bow-Wow website for fun activities. Learn more about the creators on the publisher’s website, and get a sneak preview at the antics of the nightmare neighbors. Follow Bow-Wow on Facebook.

Girl and the BicyclePETT, Mark. The Girl and the Bicycle. illus. by author. 40p. S & S. 2014. ISBN 9781442483194. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).

One little girl is set on earning the money to buy her very own green bicycle, She even helps her neighbor. Finally, the day comes—she’s earned enough money to purchase the bike. But the store window is empty! Was all her hard work for nothing?

Calling himself the “authorstrator,” Pett sneaks a surprise in his latest wordless book. Fans of The Boy and the Airplane (S & S., 2013) will be quick to spot it. Read how the comics writer decided to create wordless books. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll find an excerpt on Simon & Schuster.

Current recognition includes: New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2014, Picture Books.

Wordless books from 2014 previously featured in this column include The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubac, Flashlight by Lizi Boyd, and Draw! by Raúl Colón.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. Check out our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder, which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc.,SLJ’s parent company.)

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