Here are four books that are a true testament to the power of creativity and
Ike’s Incredible Ink
Would-be author Ike is a blobby looking being with straggly (spindly) limbs who, having read all manner of incredible stories, wants to write one himself. He sits himself down, very briefly, and then the displacement activities begin: finding that favourite pen, calling up a friend, vacuuming (he must be desperate) but still things aren’t right. Ink is the missing something Ike decides, his very own ink. Thus begins a search for the special ingredients – shifty, shady, mysterious shadows, soft, floaty feathers from the Booga-bird, and a round, velvety ‘something’ from the dark side of the moon (that one involved constructing and flying a rocket). These – and what magical sounding items they are – Ike stuffs into his big bag and then it’s back to reality for some very messy mashing and mixing and then at last the vital ink is ready.
So too is the author who, with problem solved, finally finds his ideas begin to flow: his process has become the story.
Anyone who has ever tried writing will immediately recognize Ike’s procrastinating tactics and that important period when ideas and possibilities need to gestate, float around in your head or just ‘be’ for a while. Educators take note!
Farley’s spare, quirky illustrations executed in ink – of course – and digital collage using a limited colour palette are ideal for this off-beat adventure.
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The Nowhere Box
Sam’s younger brothers are a pesky nuisance, derailing his train set, demolishing his brick constructions and following him wherever he goes. Enough is enough, George decides and sets off in search of a place where they cannot follow: a place called Nowhere. And how does he get there? In the way that most young children can, if they have a very large cardboard box and various other assorted items of junk, plus scissors and pens – via his imagination. Before long George has ridden on a switchback,
zoomed through space in a rocket and sailed the seven seas of Nowhere. But no matter how amazing, magnificent, and fantastic it might be, there’s a distinct lack of enemy pirates, dragons, anyone at all in fact. Perhaps not such an exciting place after all, thinks our would-be adventurer and maybe those little brothers might have some uses after all.
A great debut for Sam Zuppardi. Playful, and quirky; the mixed media illustrations beautifully capture the creativity of young children. I shall certainly be on the lookout for his next book.
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It’s virtually impossible to do justice to this amazing wordless book in a short review. Essentially, a little girl, lonely and ignored by her busy parents, takes up her red crayon and draws herself into a magical journey through a door she draws on her bedroom wall and out into a forest illuminated by strings of glowing lights and lanterns. With her crayon she draws a boat that takes her down river to a castle where further adventures begin; adventures involving a flying balloon, a purple bird, a rescue and much more. It would spoil the wonderful tale if I continue but suffice it to say there’s a wonderful ending involving a surprise encounter.
There is a brief nod to Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon and a wink to Anthony Browne’s Bear stories in that the crayon is used to draw the adventure but this Journey is much more complex and symbolic. Here the crayon unleashes the girl’s imagination as she makes a scooter, a door in the wall, a boat, a hot air balloon and a flying carpet. Once the adventure starts, the girl moves from a sepia toned world into one of colour and brightness: worlds wherein her feelings are palpable as she experiences loneliness, cruelty and danger and finally finds joy.
There is an element of steam punk too, which gives the book a wide age appeal.
In fact there is so much for anyone and everyone here: adventure, danger, sadness, joy, beauty, wonder, and most important of all, creativity and the imagination. All these are so brilliantly encompassed within this amazing story. Truly it is the JOURNEY not the destination that is so important as Becker has so powerfully shown. Each double spread can be the starting point for a personal flight of fancy and where any one person’s journey will take them as s/he follows this story is, well, another story and another …
I think this has to be my FAVOURITE EVER wordless picture book.
It’s a must for anyone who believes in the importance of the power of the imagination.
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If ever there was a fussy moggy, it’s Mr Wuffles. This black and white cat rejects all the specially bought toys and then he comes upon a very interesting looking object. This is in fact a miniature spaceship containing not one but five little aliens resembling robed grasshoppers. But, after a rough play session courtesy of Mr W. their spacecraft is in need of repair so the aliens go off searching for suitable materials. The watchful Mr Wuffles spots their move and is all set to pounce when his attention is diverted by a flying ladybird. His prey make their escape under the radiator and there make a kind of alliance with the resident insects. Despite a language barrier, the two groups manage to communicate through pictorial representation
and eventually, thanks to a co-operative effort, an escape is engineered. ‘Oh, Mr Wuffles!’
This near wordless masterpiece is completely absorbing. It needs careful attention to follow the action and to appreciate the wealth of detail Wiesner has so cleverly embedded within the comic strip sequences. Ingenious.
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