How are you all doing?
They say that a picture paints a thousand words and in the following examples, they make the actual words totally redundant!
Wordless picture books are so wonderful and, in my opinion, inspire imagination, promote language, and fuel discussion. I love that they have a narrative and yet leave space for the reader’s own interpretation.
There are several wordless picture books out there, a well-known example being ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs. The beautiful pale palette used throughout the book is a joy to look at and I recall hearing Mr. Briggs say in an interview that he really enjoyed creating the light world of ‘The Snowman’ after spending two years immersed in the dark and slimy world of ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’!
‘Up and Up’ by Shirley Hughes is another - perhaps slightly less known but still wonderful. The line drawings throughout are superb and the views of the town below as the girl flies over are breathtaking!
My ultimate favourite though is Quentin Blake’s ‘Clown’ – I love that it can be enjoyed on many different levels by both children and adults – there really is something for everyone. It covers abandonment, fear, love, kindness, poverty, humour, hate, entertainment, struggle, and friendship – and probably lots more! It’s so simple and yet, so deep.
As ever, Mr. Blake’s drawings are full of movement and life and his use of space and colour for effect is spot on!
I couldn’t have been more excited a couple of years back to learn that it had been made into an animation and eagerly anticipated its release. Shown on Channel 4 (still available to view) it ran for half an hour and was narrated by the talented Helena Bonham Carter. After watching it, I couldn’t work out why I hadn’t enjoyed it – visually it was brilliant and, apart from a couple of seasonal changes, was very true to the book and to Quentin Blake’s drawings. And then I realised, it was the narration, whilst well done, it was, in my opinion, totally unnecessary as the story told itself. I actually found it distracting and irritating, a bit like someone giving you a running commentary on what’s happening in a good old ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon. It’s interesting that when making the animation of ‘The Snowman’, (also for Channel 4) the producer, Dianne Jackson, went with the composer, Howard Blake’s suggestion that it should be kept wordless and I think that was an excellent decision - Less really is more.
I’ve since re-watched ‘Clown’ with the sound down and it’s a wonderful experience! The background music is missing too, which is a shame, but without the narration, this wordless story really shines. Rumpus Animation along with Eagle Eye Drama should be seriously proud of what they pulled off!
Planksters, I’d be interested to hear your opinions and experiences with wordless picture books and would love to hear some of your favourites! As ever, do feel free to comment or just say ‘hi’ – Always a joy to touch base with a Plankster!
With a low bow and a chesty cough that refuses to be calmed by either Covonia or multiple Soothers,
Thalamus (cough) Plank.