A Few Words Go a Long Way in These Picture Books

BookendsLynn: Sometimes a few words go a long way. This is especially true in these new picture books where the author/illustrators use just a few simple words of text to tell the story along with their terrific, expressive illustrations. Don’t imagine this choice limits the stories though, because these are a real delight to read with preschoolers. I recently shared two of these with the pre-reading members of our focus group and they were a big hit. Four-year-old Henry, in particular, loved them and insisted on immediately starting the books again, this time with him doing the reading.

Look!First up is Look! (2015), by Jeff Mack, who uses only two words throughout the book: “Look” and “Out.” Mack uses those two simple words in extremely clever ways to tell a story that is not only funny but gently teaches an important lesson. A small boy is glued to a TV, ignoring the escalating antics of a gorilla who wants to play with him. “Look look,” shouts the gorilla balancing books on his nose. “Look out,” says the mesmerized boy, pushing the gorilla aside. Nothing the gorilla does catches the boy’s attention until, in a colossal crash, the TV is broken. “Out! Out! Out!” shouts the boy. Now there is nothing to do and the boy picks up a book, only to be delighted with what he sees. He shares eagerly with the gorilla in a conclusion that book lovers of all ages will celebrate. Mack’s delightfully funny illustrations are drawn on old book covers and endpapers with words written in crayon and collage.

 Cindy: Smick! (2015) by Doreen Cronin uses just a few words too, and many of them rhyme for added fun!

Sit, Smick.
Good, Smick.

SmickThe spacious, white layout with minimalist but expressive art by Juana Medina showcases the humor in this dog story. Smick is quite delighted with his stick until he hears a “cluck” and meets Chick! We fell in love with Cronin’s storytelling back in 2011 when we read and blogged about The Trouble with Chickens (a fun early chapter book for Mystery Month, by the way). This is another feather in her writing cap. Cluck.

Then there’s the mischievous dog in Where is Pim? (2015) by Lena and Olof Landström. This sequel to Pom and Pim (2014) opens with Pom playing with his stuffed pink toy, Pim, when a dog runs past and snatches it. Where is PimThe search is on and young children will be engaged in helping with the hunt through simple repeating language and endearing illustrations. Pom and his own dog look high and low but there are a surprising number of pink objects that disappoint when they turn out to be a sock or some other pink decoy. There’s nothing better than dog comfort when you are sad. Poor sweater-clad Pom. Don’t fret, dear readers, Pim is eventually found. I think I am starting to see mysteries everywhere as this could easily be classified as a baby detective story!




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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