August 10 for 10 Picture Book Post: My Top Ten Favorite Wordless Picture Books that Require a Second or Third Read

Today is August 10th and  Mandy Robek from Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community are hosting the August's Picture Book 10 for 10 event.

I am celebrating this year by sharing my top ten wordless picture books that require a second and maybe even a third read.  Each of these books are beautifully illustrated and complex in a unique way that invite readers in to have a closer look.  What I love about wordless picture books is that you can often use them with any grade level.  Wordless picture books can inspire a reader's imagination or encourage a child to write in a way he has never written before or allow a child to find her own storytelling voice.  

Here are the 10 I can't live without and think need to be in everyone's libraries.  I have listed the books in no particular order. Enjoy!

The Umbrella by Ingrid Schubert; Dieter Schubert (Lemniscaat, 2011)

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett (Simon & Schuster, 2013)

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole (Scholastic, 2012)

The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers (Roaring Brook, 2012)

Zoom by Istvan Banyai (Puffin, 1998)

The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay (Chronicle Books, 2011)

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman (Houghton Mifflin Books, 2007)

The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez (Gecko Press, 2009)

Shadow by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books, 2010)

The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman (Houghton Mifflin Books, 2011)

Picture Book Review - Bluebird

Author/Illustrator: Bob Staake
Publisher: Random House (April 9, 2013)
Source: Purchased Copy
Audience: Ages 4 to 10
Wordless * Friendship * Bullying

Description from the publisher:
In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old.

Bob Staake has been working on this book for 10 years, and he believes it is the story he was born to write. 

My thoughts on this book:
Each year, I look for what I can say is the best of the best in picture books.  Some years, the Caldecott Committee and I are in sync on the choices of outstanding picture books and other years we diverge and travel down different paths.  We are about one-third of the way through 2013 and I have already looked at a few hundred picture books.  Some are beautifully illustrated but lack the strength of a powerful story.  Other books have amazing text, but fail to wow readers with their pictures.  A few have text and illustrations that compliment and enhance one another.  Yet, for me, the leader of the pack is a book that tells a powerful story without a single word.

Bluebird by Bob Staake is one of the most powerful picture books that I have seen in a long time.  I first saw this book as an F & G (folded and gathered) and knew that I had to have it.  I have looked at it multiple times since and with each reading I see a new element that I missed in a previous read through.

I lack the words or the technical understanding to express what Staake communicates through a limited, but intentional color palette.  How do I convey the subtle but important details revealed in each frame? Staake is brilliant in his artistic layout and storytelling that for the observant reader the lack of words is never an issue.

Staake's story of a lonely boy, a small bluebird, a special friendship, and how the choices of various individuals can have significant impacts on the lives of others is a story that won't be quickly forgotten.  I, seriously, hope that this year's Caldecott committee will agree with me that Bluebird deserves to be recognized with a shiny medal.  If not, I am going to make my own shiny medal for this powerful story that will move every reader young and old.
Check out the official book trailer:

Interview with Bob Staake on Random Acts of Reading, click here

More information about Bob Staake: website | twitter | facebook |

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Chronicle Books is one of those publishers that I count on to produce fun, creative books.  Sometimes those books are oversized.  Sometimes they have flaps, or pieces to open up or unfold.  I call these books "surprises on the inside".   The latest of these books:

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

From the publisher: In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more! 

Molly Idle began her career as an artist working for DreamWorks Feature Animation, and from there she leapt into the world of children’s books. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Here's the Official Book Trailer - once you finish watching, go look for this at your local independent bookstore.