Silent Wonders: Exploring Wordless Picture Books

Wordless books?

Wordless books, far from being ‘silent’, possess the ability to express a variety of feelings and emotions using only pictures! Colours, shapes and illustrations team up to craft awesome adventures, from wild fantasy worlds to personal heartwarming tales.

Guess what? These books are like a secret language everyone can understand. They are perfect for all kind of readers – from those just starting out to multilingual enthusiasts. Whether you’re a grown-up looking for a break from words or sharing the magic with a little one, these books promise a rich experience for readers of all ages.

Don’t skip out on this selection. We’ve got some classic stories and some fresh picks that let you dive into amazing stories without a single worry about words. And wait! there are some breathtaking pages that will have you absolutely hooked.

Ready for a wordless adventure?

All-time classics

The snowman / Briggs, Raymond
“When his snowman comes to life, a little boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside.” (Catalogue)

The lion & the mouse / Pinkney, Jerry
“In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when he rescues the King of the Jungle.” (Catalogue)
The red book / Lehman, Barbara
“A little girl walking to school finds a red book in a bank of snow. At school, she opens it to find pictures of a tropical island and a young boy. The boy in her book finds his own red book in the sand. As they turn the pages, they discover themselves looking at each other. The girl has an idea and buys a huge bunch of balloons and floats into the sky. The boy watches her float off in the pages on his book.” (Adapted catalogue)

Great adventures

Wolf in the snow / Cordell, Matthew
“When a wolf cub and little girl are lost in a snowstorm they must find their way home.” (Catalogue)

Journey / Becker, Aaron
“Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.” (Catalogue)

Migrants / Watanabe, Issa
“The migrants must leave the forest. Borders are crossed, sacrifices made, loved ones are lost. It takes such courage to reach the end. At last the journey is over and the migrants arrive. This is the new place. With forceful simplicity, Migrants narrates the journey of a group of animals leaving a leafless forest.” (Catalogue)

Points of view

The little barbarian / Moriconi, Renato
“Once upon a time, there was a little barbarian who was about to embark on a very dangerous journey. The brave adventurer knew there would be many perils ahead, including one-eyed giants and venomous snakes, manticores and sea serpents. Luckily, a barbarian can always rely on the trusty steed…” (Catalogue)
Zoom / Banyai, Istvan
“A wordless picture book presents a series of scenes, each one from farther away, showing, for example, a girl playing with toys which is actually a picture on a magazine cover, which is part of a sign on a bus, and so on.” (Catalogue)
Flotsam / Wiesner, David
“A pictorial discovery of what happens when a camera becomes a piece of flotsam. A sophisticated picture book. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

Slice of life

Float / Miyares, Daniel
“Wordless picture book about a boy who loses his paper boat in the rain”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)


Professional crocodile / Zoboli, Giovanna
“In this book without words, Mr. Crocodile gets up every morning and carefully gets ready for work — but just what is his job?” (Catalogue)

The Late, Great Eric Carle

“I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.” (Eric Carle)

No photo description available.

Eric Carle display, Johnsonville Library. Image: Lara van der Raaij

Eric Carle, author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other much loved classics, passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 91.

Eric was born in Syracuse, USA in 1929 but moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old. He went to school and university in Germany but in 1952, as an adult, he decided to return to New York. Eric became a graphic designer at The New York Times newspaper and later an art director of an advertising agency. It was the graphics on an advertisement that Eric had created that caught the eye of Bill Martin Jr, author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? who asked Eric to illustrate this now famous book.

This was the beginning of Eric Carle’s true career and soon he was writing his own stories, too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Eric’s Art & Words

Eric Carle’s art is distinctive and instantly recognisable. His artwork is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. The themes of Eric Carle’s stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer the opportunity to learn something about the world around and to connect us to the simple things of life, and how to overcome our fears.

Check out Eric’s unique and effective artistic technique HERE

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Book Jacket for: Te anuhe tino hiakaiBook Jacket for: Khubaja bhukyo keḍarapilara = The very hungry caterpillarBook Jacket for: al-Yaraqah al-jāʼiʻah jidan = The very hungry caterpillar

Although Eric Carle wrote and illustrated over 70 books in his lifetime, The Very Hungry Caterpillar stands out for many fans as a favourite. This much-loved classic was first published in 1969, and has gone on to sell around 55 million copies worldwide! It has also been translated into 60 languages. The idea for the format of the book came from playing around with a hole punch and thinking of a worm eating its way through a book. The rest, as they say, is history!

Here’s a short clip of Eric himself sharing his thoughts for the 45th Anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (2014):

You can immerse yourself in the beauty of Eric Carle’s many books at Wellington City Libraries:

Eric Carle’s book of many things. / Carle, Eric
“Very young children will delight in the vocabulary in this colourful book- filled with familiar and some not-so-well-known aspects of the world.”–Cataloguer.” (Catalogue)

A house for Hermit Crab / Carle, Eric
” Poor Hermit Crab! He’s outgrown his snug little shell and has to find a new home. And he does, with help from some friends who make the move less scary. Children facing change in their own lives will relate to Hermit Crab’s story and learn a lot about the fascinating world of marine life along the way. ” (Catalogue, abridged)

The grouchy ladybug / Carle, Eric
“A grouchy ladybug, looking for a fight, challenges everyone she meets regardless of their size or strength.” (Catalogue, abridged)

Have you seen my cat? / Carle, Eric
“A young boy encounters all sorts of cats while searching for the one he lost. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

The very lonely firefly / Carle, Eric
“A lonely firefly goes out into the night searching for other fireflies.” (Catalogue)

From head to toe / Carle, Eric
“Creatures move their bodies in lots of different ways – just like people. Try wriggling and jiggling as you try to keep up with these animals.” (Catalogue)

Mister Seahorse / Carle, Eric
“After Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs on Mr. Seahorse’s belly, he drifts through the water, greeting other fish fathers who are taking care of their eggs. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

The Nonsense Show / Carle, Eric
“Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book? Yes, there’s something strange, something funny, and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it’s not a mistake–it’s nonsense! And it’s also surrealism” (Catalogue)

Kids’ Review by Sofia

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce

This is a really good book. It is about a magical car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When the Tootings family finds out that it can fly they go on heaps of adventures. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has a mind of its own and is trying to find its missing parts. The Tootings go to Paris, The Sphinx and to a funny island. But will someone try to stop them? Here is a question: What is a lighting?
5 Stars
Review by Sofia of Hataitai



Ever wondered who’d win in a battle between Percy Jackson and Harry Potter?

How about between the BFG and Owly?

The Year 5&6 kids at Russell Street School in Palmerston North have asked these questions; and they’ve written down what they think could happen if these characters ever met and had to battle it out. You can read all about it here.

The battles are:

Hermione vs Matilda

Zac Powers vs Nancy Drew

Percy Jackson vs Harry Potter

BFG vs Owly

You can vote for your favourite character.  How cool is this?

Kids’ Choice

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

In which Hetty is abandoned as a baby, brought up in a foster family, sneaks off to visit the circus, dreams her real mother is the beautiful lady with the performing horses and has to face the drab reality of life in a foundling hospital; the hideous uniform, the terrible food, the being locked in an attic. Fans will enjoy.


Don’t Pat the Wombat by Elizabeth Honey

In which a group of year 6 boys head off to have the time of their lives at camp, only to have the school’s cruellest teacher come with them. But even “The Bomb” can’t stop the practical jokes, and other hilarious misadventures in this true blue aussie tale.


The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

In which Joe, Beth, and Frannie introduce their cousin Rick to their many magical  friends who live in the enormous tree, they have plenty of adventures together and eat lots of delicious food.



The Complete Peanuts by Charles Shultz

In which you get to hang out with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Schroeder, Lucy & Linus and the rest of the gang for 313 pages. Don’t be put off by that number of pages, seriously,  you can read that many comic strips!

Captain Underpants and the invasion of the incredibly naughty cafeteria ladies from outer space (and the subsequent assault of the equally evil lunchroom zombie nerds) : the third epic novel by by Dav Pilkey
In which Harold, George, and Captain Underpants use Wedgie Power to save the universe from the evil aliens, disguised as dinner ladies. Actually I got all that from our catalogue, because this is a book that no grown up would ever read. Which is maybe why you should?:-)

Harriet the Spy and more by Louise Fitzhugh

Last Friday, the library hosted a Secret Spy Spectacular. My favourite spy (by far) is Harriet the Spy, aka Harriet M. Welsch.  Harriet is a busy body who lives with her far-too-busy parents and her never-too-busy nanny. When I say “busy body”, I mean “snoop”. Harriet likes nothing more than an afternoon spent spying on the people in her neighbourhood then heading home with a notebook full of observations for a tomato sandwich.  I think books are better when the people aren’t perfect. None of the people in Louise Fitzhugh’s books are perfect: not the kids, not the teachers, not the neighbours and definitely not the parents: this is what makes her books so appealing.

Harriet the Spy is the story of a lonely girl who desperately wants to reveal something – something disturbing or astonishing or radical, just something – to break the façade of her boring and controlled life. Like lots of the more remarkable and angry characters in books, Harriet does not abide by phoneys and she is (unfortunately) not afraid to hurt feelings (including her own) if it means her life becomes more interesting, raw and real.

Lots of people have read Harriet the Spy and loved it, but not so many know about the two follow up books. Harriet returns in The Long Secret, which is a wonderful summer holiday story. The long Secret begins with a nasty (but sort-of funny) secret note and Harriet’s burning desire to find out who sent it. She enlists her mousy friend Beth Allen to reluctantly help her, and they have lots of odd  encounters along the way. I like the peculiar characters – like the family who are trying to get rich making toe medicine (EW), and Bunny (COOL NAME) the pyjama-wearing piano player. The Long Secret is two books in one really: on one hand it is a riveting mystery that involves a funny holiday township, but on the other hand it is a story about feeling left out and friendship and growing up and stuff. (That leaves no hands to hold biscuits, but it’s a summer book so maybe you could just slurp a milkshake instead?).

Harriet only plays a guest role in the third book which is set back in New York. Sport  focuses on Harriet’s friend Simon who is nicknamed Sport, and lives with his really nice but really hopeless Dad. There is not so much mystery in this one, but a lot of action. Poor Sport is really put through the wringer as his evil mother (no, not evil stepmother – just plain old evil mother) tries to gain custody of him so she can get her greedy mitts on his inheritance. This book is intense! Heaps of yelling and cussing and hiding and running and worrying and laughing. (Lots of laughing from me actually, especially when Sport and his friends get their own back against rich ladies and cops -ha-ha).

I would strongly recommend these books to anyone who is sick of children’s stories that are all sweet and fluffy and nice.  Louise Fitzhugh died at a young age and it’s a real shame because she is one of the few authors that seems to “get” kids. She doesn’t write about kids the way adults like to see kids: boring, stupid and polite – she writes about kids the way kids are: interesting, thoughtful and really cool.

The twelfth most requested book

image courtesy of syndetics

So remember the most wanted from last month? One book that only just missed out on the top 10 spot was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

So what? Well the 12th most popular book last month was written 140 years ago!

We have lots of editions. Some are condensed versions like this ( they don’t have as many words; it’s how how I first read it). Some have added goodness in the form of historical notes like this one. Some you can listen to like this.

Your mum almost certainly read it, your grandmother probably read it, your grandmother’s grandmother could very well have read it. Why don’t you read it too.

Here Kitty Kitty

What do cats do when we aren’t around?  Where do they prowl on those long summer days and moonlit nights? Some cats recline on the mat in that patch of sun, some sit by the food bowl patiently waiting for bis-cats, some shred your new curtains and some survey the world from the garden wall. Other cats though, according to Erin Hunter anyway, prowl in clans hunting, fighting and defending their territory against all odds.



Erin Hunter is actually a group of three writers who write the Warriors series using the pseudonym Erin Hunter. I have just read the first book of the Warriors series called Into the Wild. This book follows the story of Rusty – a pet cat or “kitty-pet”, and his transition into a member of the Thunder Clan. Lots of kids really like these books, Mehrbano from Tawa has even written reviews on this blog. I think the clan crests are cool and there are interesting descriptions of human life seen through wildcat eyes. The books in the first Warriors series are:

Into the Wild

Fire and Ice

Forest of Secrets

Rising Storm

A Dangerous Path

The Darkest Hour



Another fantasy book about cats is Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin. If I could purr I would purr each time I think about this book. It is a short tale about four sibling cats that are mysteriously born with wings. The story is beautifully illustrated by S. D. Schindler and as you read you can imagine yourself flying along side Harriet, James, Roger and Thelma as they try to find a safe home away from the dangers of the city. If you like cats and you have kind hands I strongly recommend you read Catwings.

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren


Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking is one of my most favourite book characters because she is awesome. She is called Pippi for short, and Pippi is awesome for many reasons. I will tell you some of them now.


One reason Pippi Longstocking is awesome is that she lives life by her own rules. Pippi is nine years old and lives alone at Villa Villekulla, a house on the outskirts of a small town. Well, actually, she doesn’t live alone, she lives with her monkey Mr. Nilsson and her horse Old Man. She doesn’t live with her parents though, so Pippi runs the show. This means no one to tell her to go to school, no one to tell her how to dress and no one to tell her when to go to bed! How would you like that?


Pippi likes it a lot and she spends her days having picnics in the woods, going treasure hunting and convincing her friends next door to try new and exciting things. That’s another reason Pippi is awesome, she loves life and can make fun for herself, her friends and anyone else just trying to mind their own beeswax.


A nine year old living alone and causing ruckus doesn’t go unnoticed even in make believe book world. Pippi faces lots of challenges. You can read about the time some policemen come to her house – it’s a bizarre little tale that ends with Pippi holding a kicking and complaining police officer over her head (that’s how strong she is!). She is always up for the challenge, Pippi, and extremely brave – another reason she is awesome.


Sometimes Pippi is just silly and rude, and maybe you wouldn’t want her around all the time, I think she could be quite annoying if you were trying to sit quietly and read a book with your cat and a biscuit. Also, I wouldn’t advise you do some of the things Pippi does. Please, never eat a mushroom you find in the bush (it could be deadly!). Sometimes though, Pippi is lovely and fun, and when you read books about her she makes you feel fun too. That is the most awesome thing about Pippi.


You can read about Pippi in Pippi Longstocking, Pippi Goes Aboard and Pippi in the South Seas.





 Astrid Lindgren told the Pippi stories to her daughter Karin when she was sick. She also wrote lots of other books. The library has heaps, so check them out and tell me what you think.

Dressed up for a school book fair.

Lucy Longstocking age 8 dressed up for a school book fair.