pictures worth a thousand words…a list of five imaginative wordless books

the chicken thief cover imageThe Chicken Thief — by Béatrice Rodriguez
published in the U.S. in 2010 by Enchanted Lion Books

Bear and Rabbit, Rooster and Hen live an idyllic life in their cottage in the woods. Alas! One fateful moment a crafty Fox creeps out of the bushes, snatches Hen, the chicken thief illustration rodriguezand tears off!

The chase is on, as Hen’s friends follow Fox night and day, up mountains and across wild ocean waves. Will they be in time to rescue her from that sly, toothy fellow?!

It’s an adventurous tale, full of friendship and surprises, just right for kids ages 3 and up. Originally published in France, it came to the U.S. a few years ago. A sequel,  Fox and Hen Together, is equally exciting and charming. 

rainstorm cover imageRainstorm, by Barbara Lehman
published in 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers

It’s a rainy, stormy day and the boy living in this great house by the sea is lonely and a bit bored.

That’s before he happens to find a mysterious skeleton key. He tries it in several enticing rainstorm illustrations barbara lehmanlocks until it *clicks* in an old trunk. And would you believe it? There’s a ladder descending into the trunk, right down through the floor!

Where will this adventure lead?

 The twists and turns of his imaginative journey are told in Lehman’s bold, clean lines. It’s a cinch for a preschooler to follow her happy, surprising storyline.

shadow cover imageShadow, by Suzy Lee
published in 2010 by Chronicle Books

Here are the ingredients:  a little girl, an attic full of stuff, a lightbulb, and one very active imagination.

Click!  The coal-black attic is illuminated and the girl finds herself amidst boxes, a ladder, tools, a bike, an old vacuum…jumbled higgledy-shadow illustration suzy leepiggledy.  All of these cast inky shadows, including the girl, who notices intriguing new shadows forming as she moves. She can make a bird with her hands just so…

Imagination springs in, turning outlines of garden hoses into snakes,  a stepladder into a palm tree, setting free the hand-shadow birds  to fly about the room.  Bit by bit, reality fades and a wild rumpus of shadow-wolves and other creatures tumble and careen with several shadow-girls in a tricky shadow-forest!

A call to supper breaks in, and in a twinkling, everything has returned to normal.  Or has it?

Ingenious illustrations and a pandemonious world of make-believe from Suzy Lee, whose other titles you should find as well. Preschool and up.

where is the cake cover imageWhere is the Cake? by T.T. Khing
published in the U.S. in 2007 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

A fantastical landscape is home to an assortment of creatures including Mr. & Mrs. Dog with their double-decker, pink-frosted, cherry-on-the-top cake, and two thieving rats who grab it and run!

While the dogs chase those bandits, a number of other scenarios are also in motion — the Pig family is on an outing,where is the cake illustration t.t. khing 001 the weasles are ready to picnic, a small bunny is sobbing — what can the matter be?

All these stories jumble together — chases and errant soccer balls, piglets wandering off and monkeys snatching umbrellas and slippers — in a rollicking tale with a happy ending. There’s a whole lot to notice, and a number of storylines to follow, which ages 5 and up will enjoy. 

A sequel, Where is the Cake Now?, is hilarious and surprising as well. Originally published in Holland, these are great fun.

the secret in the dungeon cover imageThe Secret in the Dungeon, by Fernando Krahn
published in 1983 by Clarion Books

An outing to a medieval castle is on today for this family of 3 — Mom, Dad, and one inquisitive little girl.

Immediately as the tour guide begins his spiel, the girl notices something no one else does: That statue. It just laughed!

Soon, she slips away from the tour group to explore on her own. Cold, stone steps wind down into a dungeon. What will she find there? That’s the astonishing secret in the dungeon, and you’ll the secret in the dungeon illustration fernando krahn 001have to read this marvelous little book to find it out!

We loved this story when my kids were young. Fernando Krahn was an acclaimed cartoonist and illustrator whose Christmas title I featured a few months ago. Excellent little story for 4 years old and up.