#NoWords – Collection catalogue

Below you can read a short introduction to each of the books displayed in the #NoWords exhibition at The Story of Books in Hay-on-Wye. These books are from the private collection of Clare Walters. 

Photos of each of the books can be viewed at Wordless Books.

CAPTIONS, 1-100

OWL BAT BAT OWL by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (2016)

A family of owls finds its peaceful existence disrupted by the unwelcome arrival of the Bat family. A charming tale of friendship and co-operation from an award-winning Irish writer.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books, 2016

FOOTPATH FLOWERS by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith (2015)

A small girl collects wayside flowers on a walk with her father and distributes them to various recipients. Set in a contemporary urban landscape, the story begins in austere black and white and ends in rich full colour.

First published in CANADA

This edition: Walker Books, 2015

INTER-CITY by Charles Keeping (1977)

A boy takes a journey on a 1970s British Rail InterCity train. The vibrant exterior scenes, seen through the frame of the train window, are shown in vivid colour, while the static interiors are illustrated in sepia tones.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Oxford University Press, 1977

CLOWN by Quentin Blake (1995)

After being ruthlessly chucked into a dustbin, along with several other discarded toys, Clown survives a series of traumas. Through luck and ingenuity, he brings joy to a new family – and succour to his old friends.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Red Fox, 1998

THE CHICKEN’S CHILD by Margaret A. Hartelius (1975)

A cheeky chicken finds an egg and incubates it, but the creature that emerges is not a chick, but a voracious alligator. Cue lots of mischief and mayhem, and also heaps of love and loyalty.   

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic Inc., 1975

ANNO’S JOURNEY by Mitsumasa Anno (1977)

Anno’s Journey is full of cultural allusions, visual puzzles and false perspectives. The first of five wordless ‘Journey’ titles, it came about as a result of two journeys Anno took through Europe in 1963 and 1975.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: PaperStar Books, The Putnam & Grosset Group, 1997

WINDOW by Jennie Baker (1991)

A thought-provoking book that depicts the destructive impact of human life on the natural world. Through two-yearly intervals, it marks the passage of time on a boy’s life and the landscape he sees through his bedroom window.

First published in AUSTRALIA

This edition: Red Fox, 1992

I CAN’T SLEEP by Philippe Dupasquier (1990)

This story covers a single, sleep-deprived, night, ending with the entire family standing in the garden, gazing in fascination at the moon and stars. The detailed images touchingly reflect a range of emotions.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books, 1999

THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan (2006)

In this deeply engaging and complex book, Australian artist Shaun Tan depicts the physical and emotional experience of being a migrant. The surreal fantasy setting means the reader encounters an unfamiliar world, too.

First published in AUSTRALIA

This edition: Hodder Children’s Books, 2007

ZOOM by Istvan Banyai (1995)

In this book the reader sees images getting smaller and smaller as the point of view pulls away, like a camera zooming out. The transition between pictures is elegant, with clues to suggest the next switch of viewpoint.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Puffin Books, 1998

FREE FALL by David Wiesner (1988)

A child drifts into a dream world, where a floating map leads the way like a flying carpet. With castles, towers, mazes and forests, there are visual allusions to legends and fairy tales, as well as to other texts, such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Gulliver’s Travels.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: HarperTrophy, 1988

THE CIRCUS by Brian Wildsmith (1970)

The Circus features Brian Wildsmith’s trademark bright colours and rich pattern. The book provides a series of dramatic visual tableaux of a big travelling circus in Britain in the late 1960s.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: OUP, 1989

SHADOW by Suzy Lee (2010)

Shadow opens and closes with a visual click of a light switch on a black page. In between, Lee’s two-colour artwork shows a girl becoming so absorbed in her make-believe game – prompted by shadows of real objects – that she ends up scaring herself.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2010

FULL MOON SOUP by Alastair Graham (1991)

Alastair Graham brings some joyful, anarchic madness into play in Full Moon Soup. During the course of one moonlit night, a seemingly respectable hotel descends into chaos. It’s a work of fantastic imagination that bubbles with exuberant energy.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: CHECK WITH EMMA’S COPY

WELCOME TO THE ZOO by Alison Jay (2008)

British artist Alison Jay is known for her crackle-glaze varnish. She uses the technique here to illustrate an unusual zoo – one where the humans may be looking at the animals, or the animals may be looking at humans.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Templar Publishing, 2009

SUNSHINE (1981) by Jan Ormerod

This book forms part of a complementary pair with Moonlight, as the same family features in both. In Sunshine they are getting up in the morning, with all the usual hustle and bustle of a busy household. Sunshine won the 1982 Mother Goose Award.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Frances Lincoln, 2004

MOONLIGHT (1982) by Jan Ormerod

This book forms part of a complementary pair with Sunshine, as the same family features in both. In Moonlight the child is going to bed at night, with a fun bathtime and a reading session with Dad – but not too much sleeping!

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Frances Lincoln, 2004

THE RED BOOK by Barbara Lehman (2004)

Imagine finding a red book in a pile of snow, then opening it to discover a boy on a beach staring back at you through the pages of a matching red book. The suggestion is that stories can transport you to other worlds.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004

JOURNEY by Aaron Becker (2013)

A lonely child uses a red crayon to draw a small door on her bedroom wall – then walks through it into a luminous forest… A beautiful book with a range of geographical and cultural references, from a castle in France to a village in Germany.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Walker Books, 2014

THE CONDUCTOR by Laëtitia Devernay (2010)

This tall book shows a man climbing a tree in order to conduct an orchestra of leaves. It is a simple, poetic idea, beautifully realised in delicate, almost abstract, images in muted tones of black, greens and soft yellows.

First published in SWITZERLAND

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2011

I SEE A SONG by Eric Carle (1973)

I See A Song uses semi-abstract visual images to celebrate the transformational power of music. The book is saturated with colour, and it takes only a small leap of imagination to ‘hear’ these colourful images as notes.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Hamish Hamilton, 1973

JOHNNY’S BAD DAY by Edward Ardizzone (1970)

Johnny’s Bad Day (published as The Wrong Side of the Bed in the US) shows a series of things going wrong for a young boy. The ending, where Johnny has an emotional reconciliation with his mother, may bring a tear to your eye.

First published in both the UNITED STATES and GREAT BRITAIN

This edition: Jane Nissen Books, 2008

THE CHICKEN THIEF by Béatrice Rodriguez (2005)

This delightful comic ‘chase’ story has a heart-warming twist in the tail. When Fox abducts Hen, her animal chums – Rabbit, Bear and Rooster – set off to rescue her. But all is not quite what it seems…

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Enchanted Lion Books, 2010

FOLLOW THE FIREFLY / RUN, RABBIT, RUN! by Bernardo P. Carvalho (2013)

Hold this book as you would most books and the first story, Follow The Firefly, reads from front to back. Get to the end and you must reverse direction to read the second tale, Run, Rabbit, Run!. Great fun!

First published in PORTUGAL

This edition: Book Island, New Zealand, 2014

A BOY, A DOG AND A FROG by Mercer Mayer (1967)

The apparently simple story of A Boy, A Dog and A Frog is actually very subtle, and Mercer Mayer’s narration of it through delicate line drawings combines masterly pacing with great humour.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd, 1974

THE BEAR & THE FLY by Paula Winter (1976)

Picture a family of bears – Dad, Mum, little girl and a dog – gathered around the dinner table, when a fly buzzes noisily in through an open window. The stage is now set for a drama of progressive chaos.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Crown Publishers Inc., 1976

POOL by JiHyeon Lee (2013)

This watery story is both a reflection on the inventive make-believe worlds children can create, and a tale of new friends found in unexpected places. It is an invitation to delve into fresh waters ourselves.

First published in SOUTH KOREA

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2015

THE BIRTHDAY CAKE MYSTERY by Thé Tjong-Khing (2010)

For children who enjoy puzzles, The Birthday Cake Mystery will be an enjoyable challenge. There are multiple animal characters to follow and numerous stories to unravel, with every page requiring close scrutiny to solve the mysteries.

First published in THE NETHERLANDS

This edition: Gecko Press, 2012

THE MAGIC STICK by Kjell Ringi (1968)

A boy with a stick uses it to invent multiple scenarios in which he’s always the hero – but his game ends almost as quickly as it started. This wonderful celebration of imagination is the first children’s title by the Swedish artist Kjell Sörensen Ringi (1939-2010).

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Harper & Row, 1968

THE STORY OF A FARM by John S. Goodall (1989)

The Story of a Farm shows the development of a farm from the Middle Ages to the late 1980s. The illustrations are painted in soft watercolours, and Goodall uses a technique of half pages to show two versions of a similar scene.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: André Deutsch Limited, 1989

TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE by Pacquita Maher (1997)

Tell Me What You See is an accordion-fold book, which relates two familiar fairy tales – ‘Goldilocks’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ – in sequences of virtually abstract symbols (though there is a written outline of each at the beginning). The reader’s job is to decode the symbols to ‘read’ each picture.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Bloomsbury, 1997

THE ADVENTURES OF POLO by Régis Faller (2002)

Polo is an adventurous little dog with a patch over one eye. He has his own series of books, and in this one he goes on an expedition that takes him under the sea, up to the tree tops, into a land of ice and eventually out into space.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Roaring Brook Press, 2006

THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE by Mark Pett (2014)

When out with her little brother, a girl spots a beautiful green bicycle and sets her heart on buying it. Unfortunately she doesn’t have enough money. Luckily there’s a happy ending to this sweet story of a kind and hard-working girl.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Simon & Schuster, 2014

CHALK by Bill Thomson (2010)

On a rainy day, three children discover a bag of magic chalks in the playground. First they draw a sun – and the real sun comes out. Next they draw some butterflies – and they fly away. Then they draw a fierce dinosaur – and the trouble really begins.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Two Lions, Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2010

BEAR DESPAIR by Gaëtan Dorémus (2010)

When Wolf steals Bear’s teddy, Bear eats him. When Lion throws Bear’s teddy over a cliff, Bear eats him too. So the story continues until Bear has a very distended stomach. Only the octopus knows the solution.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Enchanted Lion Books, 2012

MUFFEL AND PLUM by Lilo Fromm (1972)

Lilo Fromm is an award-winning German artist who illustrated her first picturebook in 1957. Her book Muffel and Plum is set out in nine short wordless ‘chapters’, each of which tells a different story of the inseparable lion and rabbit friends.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Macmillan, 1972

MEOW by Bernie Karlin (1991)

After hearing a ‘meow’ from behind a hedge, a little boy picks up a stray cat and takes it home to care for it. But the cat’s meows just keep getting louder and louder, until the reason for them is revealed. ‘Meow’ is the only word in the book but it is printed in lots of different ways.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Simon & Schuster, 1991

THE BLUE BALLOON by Frank Asch (1971)

This story of a boy battling with a balloon (green in this edition rather than blue, probably due to ageing paper) is slightly surreal. The balloon wants to escape to freedom, but the boy keeps recapturing it.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1971

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle (2013)

A round little girl in a pink bathing suit and yellow swim hat attempts to mimic the elegant movements of a lanky pink flamingo. Despite the inevitable tumbles of a beginner, the pair eventually dances in poetic harmony.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2013

THE KNITTED CAT by Antonella Bolliger-Savelli (1971)

A small girl knits a cat – but leaves a stray thread in its tail. A naughty mouse pulls that thread and the tail unravels. This sweet story by an Italian-born artist has clear pictures with vivid colours and wide, often patterned, borders.

First published in SWITZERLAND

This edition: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1971

THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney (2009)

Set in the African Serengeti of Tanzania and Kenya, this is a wordless retelling of Aesop’s fable ‘The Lion and the Mouse’. Rendered in gloriously warm shades of orange, this book won the 2010 Caldecott Medal.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Walker Books, 2011

ALLIGATOR’S TOOTHACHE by Diane de Groat (1977)

Alligator is busy preparing cakes for her birthday party when she suddenly gets toothache. Her friends arrive with other delicious treats and Monkey soon phones for the dentist. But is Alligator prepared to see him?

First published simultaneously in the UNITED STATES and CANADA

This edition: Crown Publishers Inc., 1977

GOOD NIGHT, GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann (1994)

Strictly speaking, this is not wordless, as ‘Good night’ recurs regularly. But the story’s narrative is told entirely through pictures. With atmospheric images of a nighttime zoo, it’s a great book for animal identification, and children will enjoy being in on the joke.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic, 1995

THE SPIDER WEB by Julie Brinckloe (1974)

Told through close-up black-and-white line drawings, this is the story of a shamrock spider painstakingly spinning its web between blades of grass and a fallen leaf. The slow pace and sad ending makes this a very moving tale.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1974

TRUCK by Donald Crews (1980)

Here we see the long journey of a vast truck packed with bicycles as it crosses America. The constantly changing world of darkness, rain and fog conveys the sense of time passing and a great distance travelled.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Greenwillow Books, 1980

SWANS by Ron McTrusty (1977)

This shows a year in the life of two swans – from mating to nest-building to egg-laying to chick-rearing. The elegantly drawn sepia images are complemented by a turquoise background, which stands in for both water and sky.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: A & C Black, 1977

JOURNEY TO THE MOON by Erich Fuchs (1969)

The opening spread of this ravishing book about the 1969 moon landing shows mini versions of the 12 main images, alongside written explanations. The wordless pages follow after, showing stylised geometric illustrations of the famous Apollo II mission.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Delacorte Press, 1969

JOE AT THE FAIR by Doreen Roberts (1972)

Opening and closing sentences bookmark this story of a boy visiting a fun fair. In between are wordless spreads of typical fairground activities of the time, including dodgem cars, a hall of mirrors and a coconut shy.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Oxford University Press, 1972

THE SNOWMAN by Raymond Briggs (1978)

This is perhaps the best-known wordless picturebook, which has subsequently been made into both a film and a ballet. In comic-book panels, it tells the touching story of a snowman that comes alive and discovers the world alongside his creator, a young boy.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Puffin Books, 1986

BOBO’S DREAM by Martha Alexander (1970)

When a big dog steals little Bobo’s bone, he nervously turns to his boy companion for help. Afterwards he dreams he is transformed into a large brave dog – and soon finds he actually is brave enough to defend himself.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin, 1989

FLOOD by Alvaro F. Villa (2013)

When a bad flood destroys a family’s home, they and their neighbours stoically rebuild it until it’s as good as new. The house in this book is almost a character in itself, so the scene where the floodwater washes through it is profoundly disturbing.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Curious Fox, 2014

TIME FLIES by Eric Rohmann (1994)

Lightning strikes, and strange bird flies into a cavernous museum full of dinosaur skeletons, transforming them back into living creatures. With wonderfully swooping perspectives and rich greeny-brown oil-paint shades, this time-travel book brilliantly evokes a stark, pre-historic world.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic Inc. 1995

RED SLEDGE by Lita Judge (2011)

A little girl leaves her red sledge in the snow overnight – and first a bear, then a whole gaggle of animals, borrow it and enjoy slipping and sliding together down the hillside. Onomatopoeic words, such as ‘scrunch’, ‘whoa’ and ‘eeeeeeeeeee‘ provide a dramatic soundscape.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Andersen Press, 2013

UP AND UP by Shirley Hughes (1979)

In this book of pen-and-ink panels, doyenne of British children’s book illustrators Shirley Hughes tells the story of a little girl who discovers she can fly. While she soars above the streets, pedestrians below chase her with a large net.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Red Fox, 1991

OUR HOUSE ON THE HILL by Philippe Dupasquier (1987)

Each of the 12 spreads in this book is labelled with a month of the year, but it’s the images that tell the multiple stories of what’s going on in the family home. It’s a great book for spotting detail and thinking about the changes of the seasons.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Picture Puffins, 1988

SIDEWALK CIRCUS by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes (2004)

Inspired by a sign for ‘Garibaldi Circus’, a girl sits at a bus stop and imagines the activities in the street before her as circus acts. So a workman balancing on a beam becomes a tightrope walker, and a pancake flipper a juggler. It’s about seeing magic in the everyday.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Candlewick Press, 2007

HERE I AM by Patti Kim and Sonia Sánchez (2014)

The narrative of this book was created by Patti Kim, who emigrated from Korea to the United States. Like the boy in the story, she initially felt alone and scared. By sharing a precious token of home, the fictional boy is able to make his first real friend.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Curious Fox, 2014

MIRROR by Jeannie Baker (2010)

The most striking thing about this book is the way it opens into two separate halves. Each half tells a different story – one set in Australia and one in Morocco – yet somehow it’s what connects the two that matters most.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books, 2010

THE TREE HOUSE by Marije Tolman & Ronald Tolman (2009)

A polar bear discovers a house in a tree – but he is soon joined by scores of other animals and birds until the tree becomes overcrowded. The images here are somewhat repetitive as they all have the same viewpoint, but strong background colours help to differentiate the pages.   

First published in THE NETHERLANDS

This edition: Lemniscaat Ltd, 2017

RUNDHERUM IN MEINER STADT by Ali Mitgutsch (1968)

Ali Mitgutsch is known as the father of the ‘wimmelbook’ – a large-format, wordless picturebook teeming with people and activities to spot. Rundherum In Meiner Stadt (Around in my City) was the first in a series of books created by the illustrator in the 1960s and it is packed with entertaining incident.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2015

JIM CURIOUS, A VOYAGE TO THE HEART OF THE SEA by Matthias Picard (2012)

At the back of this unusual novelty book are two pairs of cardboard glasses, which need to be worn in order to enjoy this tale of underwater adventure in 3D. It’s an intriguing idea, especially as the fish appear to be swimming off the page.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014

THE SHADOW by Donna Diamond (2010)

In this thoroughly scary book a lonely child faces a terrifying shadow monster. Add in two semi-animate dolls and a pair of malicious eyes lurking under the bed and you’ll appreciate this isn’t a book for the fainthearted.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Candlewick Press, 2010

MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO by Helen Oxenbury (1982)

This baby board book, one in a series of five, has all Helen Oxenbury’s superb warmth and humour. Each spread shows babies and creatures doing similar actions, with the latter often looking on warily or, as in the parrot’s case, with quiet superiority.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Dial Books For Young Readers, 1991

PLAYTIME by Ronald Heuninck (1991)

A toddler board book that shows soft pastel images of a group of diverse children playing with traditional toys, such as wooden building bricks, a marble run, a tea set, paints and a pull-along rabbit.

First published in THE NETHERLANDS

This edition: Floris Books, 1991

THIS WAY, THAT WAY by Antonio Ladrillo (2017)

A game rather than a narrative, this clever flip-and-fold book allows you to create new shapes and characters by unfolding and refolding the carefully cut pages in various different ways.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Tate Publishing, 2017

LINES by Suzy Lee (2017)

A super-competent skater creates first one, then many, lines as she swooshes across a virgin piece of ice. But is this girl real, or imagined? Is she alone, or are there others sharing her pond?

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2017

FARM ANIMALS by Jean Michel (1960)

This charming stitched cloth book of farm animals shows such sweet vignettes as a foal sniffing a butterfly and some curious cows staring at a frog. Vibrant and colourful, it is a little retro gem.

First published in FRANCE by Les Editions Des Deux Coqs D’Or, 1960

This edition: Golden Press, 1960?

1, 2, 3, TO THE ZOO by Eric Carle (1968)

In this first counting book Eric Carle’s vibrant collages just zing off the page. A steam train heads along a track with a different number of animals in each carriage, from one elephant to 10 birds. A panel along the bottom shows new carriages being added on each page.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Puffin Books, 1990

1 2 3 A BOOK TO SEE by William Wondriska (1959)

An ultra minimalist first counting book, this shows a single bold black numeral on each left-hand page and an increasing number of objects, drawn in simple red outlines, on each right-hand page.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Corraini Edizioni, 2011

ANNO’S COUNTING BOOK by Mitsumasa Anno (1975)

This is a counting book with a difference as it shows not only the correct number of blocks and objects for each numeral from 1 to 12, but also offers insights into other possible mathematical systems, such as sets, scales, tabulations and even time.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: HarperCollins, 1986

THE ENTERTAINER by Michael Willhoite (1992)

A small boy, practising his circus skills in the park, is swept away by a mysterious man and transformed into a successful star. But life can be lonely at the top, so he soon returns to the friends and carers (two women) that he loves.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Alyson Wonderland, 1992

WINTER-WIMMELBUCH by Rotraut Susanne Berner (2003)

This prolific artist is well known for her ‘wimmelbooks’ – wordless picturebooks full of people and activities – which are similar to Ali Mitgutsch’s books. This small board version focuses on a packed bus heading towards a snowy town, and the back cover shows the different characters to spot.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Gerstenberg Verlag, 2017

OUT OF THE BLUE by Alison Jay (2014)

This is a love story to the sea, as two children and numerous animals, fish and birds help to rescue a stranded giant octopus. Spot all the wonderful things to be found on the shoreline, from crabs and starfish to a stone with a hole through it.

First published in BRITAIN and the UNITED STATES

This edition: Barefoot Books, 2014

FLOTSAM by David Wiesner (2006)

David Wiesner is widely respected for his wordless picturebooks, many of which take years to complete. In this one a boy finds an old-fashioned underwater camera that reveals photos of children from long ago.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Andersen Press, 2012

JEG (heart/love) OSLO by Kristoffer Kjølberg (2015)

This large format ‘wimmelbook’  – wordless picturebook full of people and activities to spot – is set in the city of Oslo. With recognisable landmarks, such as the modern opera house, and heaps of cartoon-like goings-on, it’s a fun souvenir of the city.

First published in NORWAY

This edition: Figenschou Forlag, 2015

GARDENING WITH MR BAWDEN by Kate Farley (2018)

Inspired by the mid-century illustrator Edward Bawden, this is a mini fold-out book of garden scenes. With plants, cats and birds, a table laid for tea and a deckchair to relax in, it’s a celebration of the pleasures to be found in a little plot of green.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Design For Today, 2018

HEADS BODIES & LEGS by Alice Pattullo (2016)

This forms a pair with A Little Book Of Things To Be, as many of the fun and quirky illustrations appear in both books. Heads Bodies & Legs is based on the game of Consequences, where you swap the heads, bodies and legs of 26 different figures.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Design For Today, 2016

A LITTLE BOOK OF THINGS TO BE by Alice Pattullo (2016)

This forms a pair with Heads Bodies & Legs, as many of the fun and quirky illustrations appear in both books. A Little Book Of Things To Be, though, is a mini ‘book’ in an accordion-fold format.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Design For Today, 2016

THE RED THREAD by Tord Nygren (1987)

The expression ‘the red thread’  – in Swedish ‘den röda tråden’ – suggests a link that connects a series of things to express the essence of an idea. In this book, a group of children follow a red thread that weaves through the pages and leads them through a number of strange and surreal scenes.

First published in SWEDEN

(My edition: R&S Books, 1988)

TROVE-LE! (Found it!) by Katsumi Komagata (2002)

The award-winning Japanese artist and designer Katsumi Komagata is a genius with paper and colour. In this spare and beautiful book he uses plain and coloured, semi-transparent pages to reveal an ever-changing succession of images of the natural world.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: One Stroke, 2009

WAVE by Suzy Lee (2008)

Korean-born artist Suzy Lee celebrates the joy of a young child on a sunny day at the beach. In a minimal palette of blue and black, Lee conveys the sweeping tide of the water, the vast scale of the empty beach, and the sheer exuberance of a little girl discovering a new world.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2008

THE GREAT ESCAPE by Philippe Dupasquier (1988)

In a crazy chase, an escaping prisoner, pursued by queue of inept prison officers, wreaks havoc wherever he goes. The action is wonderfully slapstick – think Laurel and Hardy and their comedy of escalation – and the drawing is utterly superb.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books, 1989

BELONGING by Jeannie Baker (2004)

A companion book to Window (1991), this shows a desolate urban environment being gradually ‘re-greened’ over a period of 24 years. Like the earlier title, it follows a child growing up in two-yearly intervals and also uses a bedroom window as a frame to look out on the city, but its message is more positive than Window.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books, 2004

MUSEUM TRIP by Barbara Lehman (2006)

A young boy gets lost on a school trip and discovers a secret door that leads him into an intriguing display of mazes. Soon he finds himself right inside those mazes… A story where the boundaries between reality and imagination are cleverly blurred.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2006

DR ANNO’S MAGICAL MIDNIGHT CIRCUS by Mitsumasa Anno (1971)

All the performers in this Magical Midnight Circus are tiny: a book is their stage, pen nibs are juggling balls, and a bulldog clip supports an acrobat. With characteristic playfulness, Anno constantly invites us to look at things in new ways.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: John Weatherhill Inc., 1979

FROG GOES TO DINNER by Mercer Mayer (1974)

One in the A Boy, A Dog and A Frog series, this tells the story of the naughty frog who accompanies a boy and his family to dinner in a posh restaurant and instantly causes a succession of disasters. The faces of the characters are brilliantly expressive.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Collins, 1975

MAKING FRIENDS by Eleanor Schick (1969)

On a trip out with his mum, a young boy makes friends with all sorts of creatures, from an ant to a kitten, until he finally meets a human friend. The clear black-and-white line drawings perfectly capture the boundless curiosity of a young child.

First published in CANADA

This edition: The Macmillian Company, 1969

MORE! by Peter Schossow (2010)

A strong wind whips off a man’s hat, then lifts him into the air for a wild journey across land and sea, before dumping him unceremoniously back onto some sand. Is he upset? Far from it – he simply cries: ‘Again!’

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Gecko Press, 2010

THE GREY LADY AND THE STRAWBERRY SNATCHER by Molly Bang (1980)

This hide-and-seek book starts and ends with realistic pictures of an elderly lady buying some strawberries and taking them home to her family. But in between are scary scenes of fantasy, as a lanky, blue-legged monster chases after her through a forest of spooky trees.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Four Winds Press, 1980

BLUEBIRD by Bob Staake (2013)

The distinctive blue, grey and white palette of this moving story of a lonely boy who is befriended by a bird is ideal for a tale that deals with sadness, isolation, threat and death. But despite these dark themes its overall message is a positive one of friendship, fun and hope for the future.

First published in AUSTRALIA

This edition: Andersen Press, 2014

THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN by Marla Frazee (2014)

When a baby clown falls from a circus train, a kindly farmer takes him home. They become friends, learning skills and tricks from each other, until it’s time to say goodbye. With lovely spare scenes of open country and big skies, this book is both funny and touching.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Beach Lane Books, 2014

DRIP, DROP by Donald Carrick (1973)

A rainy night… and water drips first through the roof, then through the ceilings, and finally into the cellar. Its progress is watched keenly by a baby, a dog and a little boy.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1973

PICNIC by Emily Arnold McCully (1984)

On a sunny summer’s day, little beats a picnic by the water. But what happens when the youngest member of the family goes missing? Cue much wailing and frantic searching. Luckily this little creature is a resourceful soul…

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Harper & Row Publishers, 1984

THE LAZY FRIEND by Ronan Badel (2014)

Four friends are playing cards in a tree – or rather three are playing and one is snoozing. The snoozer, a sloth, doesn’t wake even when the tree is felled and taken away on a truck. A funny story about loyalty, bravery, and how different personalities can still be friends.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Gecko Press, 2014

THE RED BALLOON by Iela Mari (1967)

A boy blows up and releases a balloon, which then takes on a life of its own, becoming first an apple, next a butterfly, then a flower and finally an umbrella. Drawn in black-and-white line with red used only on the balloon, this has all the simplicity and beauty of a poem.

First published in ITALY

This edition: Bababum di Babalibri, 2015

FLOAT by Daniel Miyares (2015)

A dad makes his son a paper boat, which the boy plays with happily outside in the rain and puddles until disaster strikes. Fortunately Dad has another trick up his sleeve.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Simon & Schuster, 2015

THE FLOWER MAN by Mark Ludy (2005)

The cover claims there are over 60 stories to discover within this book, because ‘every window tells a different tale’. As the Flower Man progresses through a gloomy town he share his love for flowers with the inhabitants, gradually infusing their lives with warmth and colour.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2008

THE NIGHT RIDERS by Matt Furie (2012)

A frog and a mouse set out on a midnight journey into weird and fantastical places, making new friends on the way. The fun is in spotting all the many real and imagined creatures the pair meets on their adventure.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Sweeney’s McMullens, 2013

ONE SCARY NIGHT by Antoine Guilloppé (2004)

In stark black and white, with dramatic changes of perspective, this story has distant echoes of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. As the boy treks across the snowy landscape, can he stay on the path? And can he escape the apparently fearsome wolf trailing him?

First published in BELGIUM

This edition: Milk & Cookies Press, 2005

DOG ON A DIGGER, THE TRICKY INCIDENT by Kate Prendergast (2016)

A big dog rescues his little canine friend with the help of a digger. It’s all quite emotional, as the resourceful and loyal Dog has to urge his slow-witted humans into action.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Old Barn Books, 2016

COLORS TO TALK ABOUT by Leo Lionni (1985)

One in a series that also includes Letters, Numbers and Words, this shows three playful and curious mice changing colour as they discover new objects around them. Simple, sweet and funny.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Pantheon Books, 1985

MAGPIE MAGIC by April Wilson (1999)

A book about colours, with a strong visual narrative that uses the magic pencil device (see also Aaron Becker’s Journey and Bill Thomson’s Chalk). Here a child’s drawing of a magpie comes to life and soon gets up to naughty tricks.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Templar Publishing, 2000

CAPTIONS, 101-199

BUS 24 by Guy Billout (1972)

A diminutive man waits by a bus stop and ‘sees’ a series of giant vehicles stream past him, prompting all sorts of alarming fantasies. When bus finally arrives the man looks nervously around before climbing in. A spare, elegant foray into the world of the imagination.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Harlin Quist Books, 1998

BUNNY STORY by Lena Anderson (1987)

A mother bunny sits by a cot waiting to read her book of stories to a little one – but the kitten, frog, puppy, lamb, mouse, piglet and owl brought to her by a little boy just won’t do. Only a baby bunny fits the bill.

First published in SWEDEN

This edition: R&S Books, 1990

BREAKFAST TIME, ERNEST & CELESTINE by Gabrielle Vincent (1982)

This book is one in a series about the friends Ernest, a big bear, and Celestine, a little mouse. They may appear an unlikely pair, but their friendship is solid. An animated movie of Ernest and Celestine was made in 2012.

First published in BELGIUM

This edition: Walker Books, 1990

ERNEST & CELESTINE’S PATCHWORK QUILT by Gabrielle Vincent (1982)

This book is one in a series about the friends Ernest, a big bear, and Celestine, a little mouse. They may appear an unlikely pair, but their friendship is solid. An animated movie of Ernest and Celestine was made in 2012.

Both first published in BELGIUM

This edition: Walker Books, 1990

PLAYING by Helen Oxenbury (1981)

One in a series of four that includes Dressing, Friends and Working, this baby board book illustrates those classic activities that babies love to do, from knocking down wooden bricks to climbing in a cardboard box.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Walker Books Ltd, 1985

ELEPHANT BUTTONS by Noriko Ueno (1973)

This black-and-white book features animals with buttons along their tummies. Much like a Russian doll, a new, smaller, animal emerges each time the buttons are undone. But a surprise comes when eventually the story goes full circle.

First published in the UNITED STATES and CANADA

This edition: Harper & Row, 1973

JACK AND THE NIGHT VISITORS by Pat Schories (2006)

The night visitors in this story are an exciting group of mini robot aliens. But when his boy wants to keep one in a jar, the dog Jack knows it has to be released and helps it to escape. This is the third in a series of five Jack books.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Front Street, 2006

HOW SANTA CLAUS HAD A LONG AND DIFFICULT JOURNEY DELIVERING HIS PRESENTS by Fernando Krahn (1970)

Christmas Eve can be a hard night for Santa, especially if his reindeer have broken free and his sledge is stuck in the snow. Fortunately help is at hand in the form of two angels… A funny, two-colour book from this successful Chilean artist.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Picture Puffin, 1973

GOOD DOG, CARL by Alexandra Day (1986)

Suspend your disbelief right now – Carl is a Rottweiler who looks after a little girl. This book is the first in a popular series of 15 and it shows the dog/nanny playing, feeding and bathing baby Madeleine while her mum is out shopping.

First published in the UNITED STATES

(My edition: Green Tiger Press, 1986)

SNOW DAY by Daniel Peddle (2000)

Like a distilled version of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, this shows a snowman being made by a little boy, then melting away the following day. On the way are stunning scenes of a golden sunset turning to a midnight blue snowy sky.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2000

THE WIND by Monique Félix (1991)

One in the series of Little Mouse books that began with The Story of a Little Mouse Trapped in a Book, this shows the mouse gnawing his way through a sheet of paper, only to find himself in the middle of a wind storm – with a hungry bird heading his way.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Creative Editions, 1993

PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST by Tomie de Paola (1978)

When you crave a particular food you just have to have it. The woman in this story is craving pancakes, but first she has to collect the eggs, milk the cow and churn the butter. Despite her best efforts, things still don’t quite go to plan.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic Inc., 1991

PETER SPIER’S RAIN by Peter Spier (1982)

A brother and sister enjoy a rainy day, splashing in puddles, noticing raindrops on a spider’s web, and staring at their reflections in the water. Such a simple idea, yet each of these beautifully observed illustrations is packed with descriptive detail.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1982

FLASHLIGHT by Lizi Boyd (2014)

A boy goes out for a night-time walk in the woods, with only a torch to show him the way. The contrast between the light and dark areas is very effective, and there are lots of fun peep-through holes, too. Don’t miss all the hidden animals.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2014

FOXLY’S FEAST by Owen Davey (2010)

A hungry fox is looking for his dinner. But chickens, duck, fish and rabbits all get bypassed in favour of a feast of veg, fruit and cheese. This vegetarian fox may not be true to type, but parents may welcome his healthy eating message.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Templar Publishing, 2012

SHAPES AND THINGS by Tana Hoban (1970)

Challenge your perceptions with this book of everyday items shown in a new way. American photographer Tana Hoban created these beautiful images with photograms – ‘photographs made without a camera’.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1970

THE GAME OF LET’S GO! by Hervé Tullet (2011)

A board book game. Just draw your finger along the textured line, following the loops, swirls and dotted sections until you reach the end of the book – whereupon the line will lead you across the back cover to the beginning again.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Phaidon Press Ltd, 2011

THE GAME OF LINES by Hervé Tullet (2015)

Another Hervé Tullet board book game. In just two vivid colours, pink and yellow, this book has split pages of different lines that can be realigned to form a variety of patterns. Be prepared to have your mind boggled!

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Phaidon Press Ltd, 2015

THE 46 LITTLE MEN by Jan Mogensen (1990)

The 46 little men of the title live in a picture on the nursery wall – until the discovery of a rope ladder enables them to escape. The endpapers give the characters’ names, and the opening page sets the scene, but after that it’s entirely visual.

First published in DENMARK

This edition: Greenwillow Books, 1991

THE GIFT by John Prater (1985)

An empty box is just so tempting… Here it’s the catalyst for two children’s imaginative journey through a tunnel, shipwreck, waterfall and jungle. Told in comic-strip panels with richly coloured illustrations, it’s a great prompt for make-believe play.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Picture Puffins, 1987

LAST NIGHT by Hyewon Yum (2008)

When a little girl won’t eat her dinner she is sent to bed, where she promptly falls asleep and dreams that she and her toy bear are having a forest adventure. The illustrations, which have a mottled hazy character, were created from linocuts.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Frances Foster Books, 2008

WONDER BEAR by Tao Nyeu (2008)

Two children sow two types of seeds – but one of them grows into a very strange plant indeed! With a hint of the fairy tale ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, this book has a slightly surreal magical theme.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008

THE WORLD OF MAMOKO IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (2011)

This large format board book is one in the Momoko book series. It features a medieval king kidnapped by a dragon, but there are heaps of other individual stories to follow too. Like The 46 Little Men, the endpapers list the characters and provide clues for the reader.

First published in POLAND

This edition: Big Picture Press, 2014

CHANGES, CHANGES by Pat Hutchins (1971)

Pat Hutchins is best known for Rosie’s Walk, where the images tell a separate story to the text. Here a series of colourful illustrations show two dolls making things from wooden blocks. The story is dramatic and the pictures make you want to build your own creations.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1987

SNAIL, WHERE ARE YOU? by Tomi Ungerer (1973)

The distinctive spiral curve of a snail’s shell is hidden in each picture. It’s the reader’s job to spot it, and to find the real snail at the end. A winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, Tomi Ungerer creates illustrations that are both vividly colourful and cleverly witty.

First published in SWITZERLAND

This edition: Phaidon Press Ltd, 2015

UP A TREE by Ed Young (1983)

In soft black-and-white images, outlined with thin red borders, this tells the tale of a cat stuck up a tree – until the wares of a passing fishmonger tempts him down. The beauty is in the exquisite illustrations of the cat and his turbaned rescuers.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Harper & Row, 1983

DEEP IN THE FOREST by Brinton Turkle (1976)

A baby bear investigating the log cabin of a pioneer family while they’re out for a walk turns the ‘Goldilocks’ fairy tale on its head. The soft pencil-and-wash illustrations in earthy shades of brown and sepia have heaps of energy and movement.

First published simultaneously in the UNITED STATES and CANADA

This edition: A Unicorn Paperback by E. P. Dutton, 1976

A BALL FOR DAISY by Chris Raschka (2011)

Little dog Daisy loves her red ball, so when another dog bites it to bits she is understandably very sad. Luckily there is a solution. The illustrations are brilliantly expressive, and it is very easy to ‘read’ Daisy’s turbulent emotions.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011

YELLOW UMBRELLA by Jae Soo Liu, music by Dong Il Sheen (2001)

This is unusual because it comes with its own CD of music to listen to as you read. The semi-abstract illustrations are unusual, too, as we view the scene from overhead. It’s only at the end that we discover the children hidden under the umbrellas.

First published in KOREA

This edition: Kane Miller, a division of EDC Publishing, 2002

WHERE’S WALRUS? by Stephen Savage (2011)

A walrus escapes from the zoo and hides in plain sight while the zoo-keeper tries to recapture him. Half game, half story, this book combines all the fun of a spotting activity with the satisfaction of a rounded narrative.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic Children’s Books, 2014

YOU CAN’T TAKE A BALLOON INTO THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser (1998)

This comic strip-style book is both funny and educative. A little girl leaves her balloon outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art while she and her granny explore inside. While they’re indoors, the balloon floats around New York having adventures of its own that mirror the artworks on display.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Puffin Books, 2000

THE TREASURE BATH by Dan Andreasen (2009)

A bath turns into an underwater adventure after a little boy gets sticky making a cake with his mum. An easy-to-follow book that tells the story from the child’s perspective with clear and entertaining pictures.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Christy Ottaviano Books from Henry Holt and Company, 2009

PETER SPIER’S CHRISTMAS! by Peter Spier (1983)

Like Peter Spier’s Rain, this book portrays a fun family experience. While it clearly reflects a 1980s wealthy, white, middle-class and Christian viewpoint, the highly detailed illustrations show much we would still recognise today.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: William Collins Sons and Co Ltd, 1984

APPLES by Nonny Hogrogian (1972)

What starts out with one boy eating one apple and throwing away the core ends up with many creatures eating many apples and eventually creating a new orchard from the pips.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: The Macmillan Company, 1972

BIRDS OF A FEATHER by Willi Baum (1969)

A cheeky bird steals some fancy feathers from a lady’s hat – and finds himself captured by a hunter. Only by divesting himself of his ill-gotten gains can he return to his friends. The message of ‘pride before a fall’ comes across loud and clear.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1971

CLEMENTINA’S CACTUS by Ezra Jack Keats (1982)

Ezra Jack Keats is probably best known for The Snowy Day (1962), which featured the first African-American protagonist in a full-colour picturebook and won the Caldecott Medal. This book, published a year before the artist’s death in 1983, tells the story of a little girl intrigued by a prickly cactus.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Viking, 1999

A SMALL MIRACLE by Peter Collington (1997)

Peter Collington has created many wordless picturebooks, including The Angel and the Soldier Boy (1987) and The Tooth Fairy (1995). A Small Miracle focuses on the theme of ‘charity’ with miniature figures from a church Christmas crib coming alive to help a poverty stricken, lonely old woman.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Jonathan Cape Limited, 1997

THE STORY OF AN ENGLISH VILLAGE by John S. Goodall (1978)

This book shows the development of an English village over seven centuries, from medieval times to the 1970s. Each century is given two spreads, one showing an outdoor view and the other an interior, with half-pages to ‘flip’ the scene.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Macmillan London Limited, 1978

THE GOOD BIRD by Peter Wezel (1964)

A pink bird spots a lonely goldfish in a bowl and brings a worm for them to share. An ultra simple story that has a strong message of friendship.

First published in SWITZERLAND

This edition: Harper & Row, 1966?

THE BOY, THE BEAR, THE BARON, THE BARD by Gregory Rogers (2004)

When his football flies through the window of a boarded-up building a boy is transported back in time to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Unfortunately the Bard is none too pleased with him, and a fun chase ensues across Elizabethan London.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: ‘A Neal Porter Book’, Roaring Brook Press, 2004

LOOKING DOWN by Steve Jenkins (1995)

In images made from cut-paper collages, this book starts with a view from outer space and zooms in until we see a young boy looking through a magnifying glass at a ladybird in his garden. Think Charles and Ray Eames’ film Powers of 10 (1977) for younger readers.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995

VICKI by Renate Meyer (1968)

Vicki tells the story a little girl who, when rejected by her friends, makes a doll – and soon finds everyone wants to play with her again. The unusual illustrations were made by printing assorted materials, such as leaves, grasses and lace, onto paper.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: The Bodley Head, 1968

HIDE-AND-SEEK by Renate Meyer (1969)

Hide-and-Seek is a type of spotting game as, in atmospheric pictures, we glimpse both the girl in red and the boy in blue hiding from each other. Renate Meyer, a Berlin-born artist, was married to illustrator Charles Keeping, who created wordless picturebooks.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: The Bodley Head, 1969

A WHOLE WORLD by Katy Couprie and Antonin Louchard (1999)

Rather than a narrative, this intriguing book of pictures simply challenges you to think about what you are seeing. With paintings, drawings and photographs on every page, readers can either describe the objects shown, or make real or imagined connections between them.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Milet Publishing, 2002

THE BOX by Kevin O’Malley (1993)

Like the children in John Prater’s The Gift (1985), the little boy in this story uses an empty cardboard box as inspiration for a make-believe journey. Simply told with a single picture per page, this rescue adventure should appeal to any child who has ever turned a box into a spaceship.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1993

PADDY FINDS A JOB by John S. Goodall (1981)

John S. Goodall’s wordless books embrace both non-fiction and fiction. This story, one in his Paddy Pork series, this shows the little pig working as a waiter in a restaurant and causing havoc. The book has many fun novelties, such as pop-ups, flaps and moving parts.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1981

FROG, WHERE ARE YOU? by Mercer Mayer (1969)

Another in the A Boy, a Dog and a Frog series, this shows the Boy and the Dog searching for their friend Frog, who has gone missing. On the way they encounter angry bees, a disturbed owl and a cross deer, but fortunately all’s well that ends well.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2003

THE TRUNK by Brian Wildsmith (1982)

One by one, some animals climb a tree trunk but – oh no! – this trunk actually belongs to an elephant. Simple pictures on brightly coloured backgrounds make this visual joke very appealing. (And the elephant’s multi-coloured toenails are rather special, too.)

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Oxford University Press, 2001

THE APPLE BIRD by Brian Wildsmith (1983)

A slim bird turns into a fat one after munching his way through a giant apple. In fact he becomes so fat his tummy looks almost identical to the original apple. Like Wildsmith’s The Trunk, this is another fun and colourful visual joke.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Oxford University Press, 1986

A FLYING SAUCER FULL OF SPAGHETTI by Fernando Krahn (1970)

Chilean illustrator and cartoonist Fernando Krahn here creates a quirky story of some gnomes stealing a saucer-full of spaghetti from one little girl (who doesn’t want it) and giving it to another (who does).

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1970

RIVER by Charles Keeping (1978)

Water attracts humans, and this book shows a succession of buildings being built, knocked down and rebuilt on the same riverside site over centuries. Keeping’s idiosyncratic use of colour is amazingly atmospheric and his inclusion of words within the pictures help place each scene in its own era.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Oxford University Press, 1978

NO! by David McPhail (2009)

Although the word ‘No!’ is repeated regularly in this title, the narrative is told solely through the pictures. A child wanders scared and alone through an increasingly menacing environment, but eventually challenges it and changes things for the better. A positive message, in a book that’s supported by Amnesty International.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2011

BIRD by Beatriz Martin Vidal (2015)

In this surreal book a bird flaps its wings and morphs into a girl, while a girl in a white flying suit and wings morphs into a bird. The tag line reads ‘Let your imagination fly’, but the dark, virtually monochrome, images slightly undermine that upbeat message.

First published in CANADA

This edition: Simply Read Books, 2015

THE SILVER PONY by Lynd Ward (1973)

American illustrator Lynd Ward is best known for his adult wordless books, Gods’ Man (1929) and five others. The Silver Pony is a later children’s story about a boy and his flying horse sharing adventures across the world. At 174 pages, it’s long, but its monochrome illustrations are stunning.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973?

ON CHRISTMAS EVE by Peter Collington (1990)

This is a magical tale of a child’s stocking being filled on Christmas Eve, as a fairy reads a little girl’s letter to Santa and helps him pick exactly the presents requested. There a nasty moment when the girl stirs, but a sprinkling of fairy dust soon sends her back to sleep.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: William Heinemann Ltd, 1990

THE ANGEL AND THE SOLDIER BOY by Peter Collington (1987)

While a little girl sleeps, her two miniature toys come alive and defeat some dastardly pirates. The Angel here is very pro-active and it is she who rescues the kidnapped Soldier Boy, rather than the other way round.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Little Mammoth, 1989

THE TOOTH FAIRY by Peter Collington (1995)

With a strong female protagonist, this shows the Tooth Fairy smelting a new coin to go in a little girl’s tooth box – and using the tooth left behind for a rather surprising purpose. The interiors of the fairy’s tiny house are magical!

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Red Fox, 1998

LITTLE PICKLE by Peter Collington (1986)

A mischievous toddler falls asleep in her buggy and dreams that her mum has swapped places with her, so she can have an exciting adventure on a fisherman’s boat. Seeing the mum asleep in the pushchair should make kids laugh.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: E. P. Dutton, 1986

THE SECRET BOX by Barbara Lehman (2011)

A group of children discover a stash of seaside mementoes, follow a trail on an old map, and soon find themselves inside an old pier – and back in the past. The illustrations depict a town changing over decades, much as it does in Jeannie Baker’s Window and Belonging.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011

RE-ZOOM by Istvan Banyai (1995)

This is the sequel to Banyai’s Zoom and it, too, challenges your perceptions. As you pull away from one illustration to the next, the images not only change in scale, but also travel across time and place.  

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Viking, 1995

THE OTHER SIDE by Istvan Banyai (2005)

This book shows scenes from alternative points of view, such as from the inside and outside of a window; or from above or below the water line. By seeing things from different perspectives, it subtly reminds you there is always more than one way to view any situation.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2009

TOPSY-TURVIES by Mitsumasa Anno (1968 & 1970)

All sort of things are ‘wrong’ in these Escher-like pictures that play visual games with our perception – floors appear to be on two levels at once, stairs go up and down simultaneously, a maze goes in several different directions. But, as Anno himself says, ‘is anything really impossible in the world of the imagination?’

First published in JAPAN

This edition: John Weatherhill Inc., 1978

ANNO’S ITALY by Mitsumasa Anno (1978)

The second in Anno ‘journey’ books, this is packed with references to Italian culture. As well as famous landmarks, such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, you will see Roman soldiers, Renaissance architecture, and Italian art, literature, films, children’s games, biblical stories and folk tales. The more you look, the more you’ll see.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: William Collins Publishers, Inc., 1980

ANNO’S BRITAIN by Mitsumasa Anno (1981)

Anno records his impressions of England, Scotland and Wales in his third ‘journey’ book. Find Tower Bridge and Stonehenge. Spot men jousting, playing the bagpipes and tossing the caber. And don’t miss the Beatles and several images of the Queen walking a corgi.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: Philomel Books, 1985

ANNO’S U.S.A. by Mitsumasa Anno (1983)

This is the fourth in Anno’s ‘journey’ series, and here he explores America. As always, there is a range of cultural references, including pioneers in covered wagons, scenes from films like The Magnificent Seven and West Side Story, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, characters from Tom Saywer and Little Women, and so much more.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: Philomel Books, 1983

NOAH’S ARK by Peter Spier (1977)

Peter Spier tells the Noah story in pictures. The ark is so crammed with animals, birds and insects that each image needs a long look. With many funny details to spot, such as the elephant standing on the rat’s tail, the sheer messiness of it all is quite brilliant.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: A Doubleday Book for Young Readers, 1977

MR WUFFLES! by David Wiesner (2013)

A spaceship of tiny green aliens lands in the living room of a large, fierce and curious cat. Claws out, Mr Wuffles attempts to catch them, but the creatures cleverly evade his clutches. Look out for the made-up language of the aliens and the ants (see Shaun Tan’s The Arrival for something similar).

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Andersen Press, 2014

A LONG PIECE OF STRING by William Wondriska (1963)

The piece of string escapes from a tangle on the front endpapers to wind around a variety of different objects representing the letters of the alphabet, from an alligator to a zipper, then joins another tangle on the back endpapers.

First published in the U.S.A.

This edition: Chronicle Books, 2010

FULL MOON AFLOAT by Alastair Graham (1991)

The chef from Full Moon Soup is now on the SS Splendide – and is still making his magical broth. As in the earlier title, his soup causes all sorts of bizarre happenings, and order on board ship quickly descends into chaos. But which of the many characters will you follow?

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: David Bennett Books, 1999

TUESDAY by David Wiesner (1991)

One Tuesday night the full moon rises, and some frogs fly off on water-lily pads to visit the city. In a rich palette of blues and greens we see them crashing into washing, watching television and meeting a dog. The magic stops at daylight, but what might happen the following Tuesday? Could pigs fly?

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Clarion Books, 1991

AN EDWARDIAN HOLIDAY by John S. Goodall (1978)

Take a nostalgic trip into the past with this third book in the series that also includes An Edwardian Summer and An Edwardian Christmas. It shows a boy and girl enjoying an early 20th century seaside holiday, including a Punch and Judy show, all portrayed in Goodall’s distinctive, softly coloured illustrations.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Macmillan, 1978

MIRROR by Suzy Lee (2003)

Suzy Lee’s deceptively simple books often blur the boundary between reality and imagination. Here a little girl plays with a mirror-image ‘friend’, who at first is an exact reflection but who gradually takes on her own personality. In annoyance, the girl strikes out – and her new playmate disappears.

First published in ITALY

This edition: Seven Footer Kids, 2010

QUEST by Aaron Becker (2014)

Quest is the second in a trilogy that begins with Journey and ends with Return. In it two friends and their purple bird use their crayons to enter a magical world where they have to rescue a king and his people from darkness. A fast-paced story that has all the thrill of a movie.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Candlewick Press, 2014

RETURN by Aaron Becker (2016)

Return is the final part of the trilogy that includes Journey and Quest. Here the girl, followed by her father, goes back to the enchanted kingdom and once again defeats the forces of darkness. A dramatic and sustained story with mesmerising pictures that celebrates quick thinking and creativity.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Walker Books, 2017

THE UMBRELLA by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert (2010)

Where can a big umbrella carry a tiny dog? If the wind is strong enough, all over the world it seems. The wide focus of the painterly pictures is awe-inspiring, and the pages are saturated with rich colour, but the humour and characterisation are never overshadowed by these elements.

First published in THE NETHERLANDS

This edition: Book Island, 2016

THE WHALE by Ethan and Vita Murrow (2015)

A boy and a girl set sail separately to solve the 50-year-old mystery of the Great Spotted Whale. In newspapers and on posters, words do appear in this book, but they are integrated into the dark, complex, monochrome pencil illustrations.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Big Picture Press, 2015

A STONE FOR SASCHA by Aaron Becker (2018)

A lonely girl on the beach throws a stone into the water and sets off a magical trip back through time. We see, via a world of dinosaurs, ancient civilisations and pirates, the transformation of a vast golden rock into a similar stone – which the girl then picks up and carries home. Nominated for the 2019 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Walker Books, 2018

CROCODILE & PIERROT by Russell Hoban and Sylvie Selig (1975)

Russell Hoban, author of The Mouse and his Child, wrote the plot for this book and Sylvie Selig created the illustrations. Although each spread uses words to label objects, the story itself – of a crocodile chasing a naughty pierrot to retrieve its toy – is actually told through the busy pictures.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1975

LINES EVERYWHERE by Jimi Lee (2013)

A line, physically cut through the centre of the spine, forms inside the basis of a variety of images, from an arrow to a diving board to a bridge. A playful book that remind us lines are everywhere.

First published in SWITZERLAND

This edition: Minedition, 2013)

UP MY STREET by Design For Today and Louise Lockhart (2015)

With echoes of J.M. Richards and Eric Ravilious’ High Street (1938), this concertina book shows a row of 21st century shopfronts. Although there are rhymes on the back, when propped up it seems like a long colourful painting.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Design For Today, 2015

NUMERO by Marion Bataille (2013)

The pages of this pop-up, 1-10 number book have to be held in exactly the right way for the figures to be read. Not always easy, but fun to try – and the yellow and black design is very striking.

First published in FRANCE?

This edition: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2013

LITTLE ELI by Laura Bellini (2015)

Eli is ‘a tenacious dragonfly with grand designs’. He likes things to go UP, so in these tall, narrow books he experiments with building towers from playing cards, pencils and eggs. The results are disastrous, but there’s always a surprise bonus at the end. The three titles come in a gift slipcase.

First published in ITALY

This edition: Tiny Owl, 2017

WHAT WHISKERS DID by Ruth Carroll (1932)

A child is taking a dog for a walk – or is the dog taking the child for a walk? Either way, the lively puppy escapes and heads off on an exciting rabbit-based adventure all his own. A 1960s reprint of an earlier 1930s book.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Scholastic Book Services, 1967

TOPSY TURVY WORLD by Atak (2009)

Right from the title page, where a girl’s head turns into a man’s face when turned upside down, everything here is back to front. Polar bears live in the jungle, a rabbit shoots a hunter, a baby feeds its mum, and so on. It’s also fun to find the mouse on every page.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Flying Eye Books, 2013

GOLDFISH AIN’T BORING by Tigz Rice (2008)

A goldfish seeking adventure leaps out of his bowl and dives down a toilet. When he eventually arrives in the big sea he encounters some pretty scary creatures, and soon decides his former home wasn’t so bad after all.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Tigz Rice, 2008

THE WEST WING by Edward Gorey (1965)

These dark pen-and-ink illustrations of rooms inside an old house invite more questions than answers. What is in the string-wrapped parcel? Whose skirt can we glimpse in the mirror? And why is the man lying on the floor? Moody, atmospheric and witty, these pictures can make your mind buzz with potential interpretations.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Bloomsbury, 2009

THE FABLE GAME by Enzo Mari (1965)

This collection of six double-sided colour plates, featuring forty-five animals and various classic fairy tale motifs, is more of a game than a book. But the narratives emerge from the way in which the plates are slotted together to prompt the telling of any number of different stories.

First published in ITALY

This edition: Edizioni Corraini, 2011

UNTITLED by Emily Rand (2014 & 2015)

These two slim shaped ‘leaflets’ – one of buildings, the other of trees – are hardly big enough to count as books. But they do contain elements, such as the woman on the telephone, or the red feather, which could prompt a story.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Hato Press, 2014 & 2015

TWO BY FOUR by Jack Taylor (2015)

With a floor plan and tools, such as a hammer, wrench and screwdriver, we see a group of workmen constructing a building. Bright colours, strong patterns and cut-outs give this slim book strong character.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Hato Press, 2015

THE WILD SWANS by Thomas Aquinas Maguire (2011)

It’s appropriate this Hans Christian Andersen story has a wordless interpretation, as the protagonist may not speak until her magical task is completed. The text is written in a separate leaflet, but otherwise the story is told in monochrome images that form a long accordion-fold frieze when lifted from the box.

First published in CANADA

This edition: Simply Read Books, 2012

BABY TAKES A TRIP by Marilyn MacGregor (1985)

A baby escapes from his cot and he and his dog explore the house together, leaving chaos in their wake. One sweet feature of this book is that even the thought bubble is a picture.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Four Winds Press, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985

RAIN OR SHINE by Ronald Heuninck (1989)

This board book takes two children through the year, from feeding ducks in the spring rain to playing in the winter snow. With jewel-bright colours and lots to spot in every picture, this is a delightful book for toddlers.

First published in THE NETHERLANDS

This edition: Floris Books, 2014

FUN by Jan Pieńkowski (1995)

A nursery cloth book with vivid colours and a clear drawing style that focuses on things a toddler might find entertaining, from a duck splashing in water to squelching in muddy puddles in shiny red Wellingtons.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: William Heinemann Ltd, 1995

MOUSE LETTERS by Jim Arnosky (1999)

This small hardback shows a sweet little mouse making letters from sticks. Puzzled, surprised, pleased, cross, embarrassed, fearful and sleepy, this expressive creature experiences a range of emotions while battling to make his alphabet.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999

SIR ANDREW by Paula Winter (1980)

Ah, the perils of vanity… The dapper donkey Sir Andrew is so busy looking at himself in mirrors and shop windows that he fails to see what’s under his nose – and disaster is inevitable.

First published simultaneously in the UNITED STATES and CANADA

This edition: Crown Publishers Inc. and General Publishing Company Limited, 1980

DON’T FORGET ME, SANTA CLAUS by Virginia Mayo (1992)

As we saw in Marilyn MacGregor’s Baby Takes a Trip, babies can get up to a lot of mischief when they climb out of their cots. The escaped baby in this story finds himself taking an unexpected sleigh ride to the Santa’s workshop.

First published in BRITAIN

This edition: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1993

SILENT CHRISTMAS by Josse Goffin (1990)

Each spread except the last of this nativity story has two images, one large and one small, while the final image extends across the whole spread. Josse Goffin’s soft pencil illustrations are ultra calm and clear.

First published in BELGIUM

This edition: Boyds Mills Press, 1991

ACROSS TOWN by Sara (1990)

A man heads through a sinister city on a dark night – but will he find a foe or a friend? The cut-paper illustrations by French artist Sara are both dramatic and emotional.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Orchard Books, Franklin Watts, Inc., 1991

CAPTIONS, 200-xxx

RAINSTORM by Barbara Lehman (2007)

Barbara Lehman has written several wordless picturebooks, including The Red Book, a Caldecott Honor title, and The Secret Box. This title features a lonely boy who sets off on an adventure after discovering a key under a chair. Where will it lead him?

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, 2007

THE BOY AND THE AIRPLANE by Mark Pett (2013)

Published a year before its companion book The Girl and the Bicycle, this tells the story of a boy with an ambitious, and long-term, plan to retrieve his much loved – yet sadly misplaced – red toy airplane. Can he ever achieve his goal?

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Simon & Schuster, 2013

FOX’S GARDEN by Princesse Camcam (2013)

A fox heads out in search of food and, unsuccessful, takes shelter in a greenhouse. A child watching on takes pity, and is rewarded with a surprise gift. Atmospheric illustrations provide a sharp contrast between the snowy night and the warm interiors.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Enchanted Lion Books, 2014

ICE by Arthur Geisert (2009)

It’s a hot day on a remote island and the pigs’ water reservoir is running low. A solution is needed… With its etched illustrations of a sailing ship, hot-air balloon and globes, this book of has witty echoes of a Jules Verne-style adventure.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Enchanted Lion Books, 2011

FLYING JAKE by Lane Smith (1988)

A boy and his escaped caged bird form a rapport by playing tunes to each other. Together they fly off on a journey that takes them over the rooftops, into the clouds and eventually back home. The final image of the empty cage makes the point that freedom always wins over captivity.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1996

THE SELF-MADE SNOWMAN by Fernando Krahn (1974)

A clump of snow, knocked off a cliff, slides down a mountainside at increasing speed, gathering more snow on the way until it eventually ends up stationary in a town square. Its previously nervous yet impassive features are at last transformed into a relieved smile.

First published in the UNITED STATES

This edition: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1974

A DAY, A DOG by Gabrielle Vincent (1982 and 1999)

In spare yet hugely expressive black-and-white line drawings, this book tells the shocking story of an abandoned dog’s search for companionship. The initial image alone is heart-breaking and even the ending brings only the smallest glimmer of hope.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 1999

KONRAD WIMMEL IST DA! by Jan von Holleben (2015)

This multiple character book is unusual in that it uses photographs rather than drawings. Over several weeks, Jan von Holleben took thousands of photographs of 250 schoolchildren, shot from above while they lie arranged in tableaux on the ground.  He then created pictures on themes such as school, the park, the road and the zoo – and each one is just fizzing with joyful energy.

First published in GERMANY

This edition: Gabriel in der Thienemann-Esslinger Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart, 2015

ANNO’S MAGICAL ABC, AN ANAMORPHIC ALPHABET by Mitsumasa Anno and Masaichiro Anno (1980)

In this fun alphabet book Japanese artist Mitsumasa Anno and his son Masaichiro Anno have created a series of anamorphic images that must be viewed with the help of a cylindrical mirror in order to be seen clearly. It’s an old technique, dating back to the ancient Greeks, that is revived here to create an intriguing and interactive puzzle.

First published in JAPAN

This edition: Philomel Books, New York, 1981

NOS VACANCES by Blexbolex (2017)

Unsere Ferien, shown here, is the German edition of the French title Nos Vacances by Blexbolex. In this wordless novel, a little girl has to contend with the unexpected, and unwanted, arrival of a small elephant at her grandfather’s house. The complexity of the relationships is explored in the highly detailed, richly coloured, screen-printed images.

First published in FRANCE

This edition: Verlagshaus Jacoby & Stuart, Berlin, 2018