Patrick McDonnell

How To Read A Wordless Book

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Two years ago, while I was acting as a judge for the Cybils and reading even more books than normal in a given year, I noted the inordinate amount of wordless picture books that had come out in 2013. It even turned out to be the Caldecott year for wordless picture books as the 2014 honor awards went to three wordless picture books: Journey, Flora and the Flamingo, and Mr. Wuffles!. It was an unheard-of year for wordless picture books. I even frequently refer to 2013 as “The year of the wordless picture book.” Clever, no?

I’ve discussed wordless books occasionally, the most important for me being South by Patrick McDonnell; but I tend to avoid discussing them as they are intimidating as a reader, and especially as an illustrator. They can be lovely and they can also be frustrating. The tendency to just barrel through each page and not pause too long is even greater because there are no words to guide you. They can be delightful to savor by yourself, but groan-inducing when brought to you by a child with full expectation of you putting on a great ad lib read.

But, a well-executed wordless picture book has gone beyond creating lovely pictures and has buried a story so deep that words cannot express it. The illustrations must do double-duty. They must draw you in, yes with their actual drawn nature; but also with their ability to tell the story with every detail, every expression, every movement and page turn.

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The most tender scene impressed on my mind and heart from South by Patrick McDonnell.

I do not have what I would consider the ultimate grasp on how to read a wordless picture book, but I thought I would share a few pointers I have gleaned to help make them less intimidating and perhaps invite you to experience them more fully. I plan on sharing a wordless picture book review every Wednesday for a while, and so I hope this serves as an intro on how to approach all the amazing picture books that come out “quietly.” I took a ton of pictures from the cast of 2013 wordless picture books, so I am going to illustrate my reading tips using those books. Taking a cue from 6 of the stellar wordless books from 2013, here are my 5 tips to reading a wordless picture book: Read the full post…

Ten Lovely Picture Books For Valentine’s Day, 2014

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February 14th is almost upon us and while that day is just another date to some, a birthday to many people, and International Book Giving Day to others – most people know the day as Valentine’s Day. Last year I struggled to make a list of themed books as I just never really get into this particular holiday, but there really are a lot of lovely books that are love-themed, heart-themed or especially specific to the day. So, I have pulled a few of my new favorites and we’ve been reading them constantly this week in great enjoyment. Reading is a good cause anytime and love is worth being celebrated, so why not have some love-themed books on the agenda for the week! Allow me to help you find some great ones. Here are 10 children’s picture books for Valentine’s Day to help you get in the loving mood. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 23: The Gift Of Nothing

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What do you give someone who has everything? A question that we should all be considering as we have so much stuff! Well, here is the perfect book for just such a minimalist thought process, The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell from 2005.

The Gift of Nothing cover

McDonnell’s infamous cat Mooch is searching for the perfect gift for his friend Earl. Only problem is, Earl already has everything a dog could need or even want. So Mooch decides the best gift is the gift of nothing. But where do you get nothing? On TV? At the store? Around the kids who are always bored? It’s a book that is charming, simple, humorous and profound for this gift-giving season. Read the full post…

Notable Children’s Picture Books From 2012

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Or perhaps this post should be called the books I noticed and loved in 2012, as this is definitely not an all-inclusive list of the great books that came out last year. Whatever the title, I feel it necessary and enjoyable to point out a few of my favorite children’s books that 2012 offered. Some I’ve reviewed and will link to, and a couple others I intend on reviewing more in depth in the next few weeks. So here we go – 15 books to enjoy from 2012. Read the full post…

Book Review: The Monsters’ Monster By Patrick McDonnell

The Monsters’ Monster
Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell | 2012

Today’s book review is a brand-spanking new book by Patrick McDonnell. This is a little later than I anticipated, but I feel it should still be highlighted as I really like it! I’m not a big fan of Halloween. However, I recognize that a lot of people enjoy this holiday and I do like to highlight books that I actually like and fit well with this theme. So, from the marvelous creator of the MUTTS comic strip, and many other lovely picture books, comes this new tale about The Monsters’ Monster. Read the full post…