This is a celebration of three of my favourite picturebooks from the quieter end of the spectrum. It's great fun speeding through noisy dinosaur/robot/pirate books, but every now and then it's nice to throw something slow and beautiful into the mix. While we're encouraging quiet time, bestselling author Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus, Lockwood & Co.) is running a campaign called Freedom to Think, which calls for children to have allocated free time to explore their imaginations. Check out the blog at freedomtothinksite.tumblr.com and lend your support.
The Wonder by Faye Hanson
The little boy in The Wonder sees amazing things wherever he looks. Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared to be patient with his daydreaming. Standing at the bus stop, he imagines flying contraptions in the clouds above. The Bus driver hurries him on. Arriving into the school playground, he conjures up colourful fairground rides. His form teacher taps her feet. But then he walks into the art room and finds himself staring at a blank sheet of paper. The art teacher says, 'Use your imagination.' So he does, finding a way to share the wonder. This is a lovely story that will delight and reassure any small child with a big imagination.
Flotsam by David Wiesner
David Wiesner's picturebooks are always ingenious and fantastical, something different and worth having. Flotsam is a wordless picturebook, in which a boy collecting curios on the beach finds something special among the shells and crustaceans: a camera of unusual design, washed up on shore. He rushes off to get the film developed. The photographs feature mechanical fish, tiny green aliens gathering at the bottom of the ocean and many other amazing sights. Another photo shows a girl holding a photo of another child holding a photo of another child holding a photo... It's up to the boy to take a photo of himself with the camera and throw it back into the sea for the next child to find. We're big fans of the wordless picturebook genre; a roundup of other favourites can be found here.
Silver Buttons by Bob Graham
This award-winning picturebook is based on a remarkably simple but profound idea. Jodie is drawing a duck in top hat and boots, while across the room her baby brother is crawling towards her. She draws silver buttons on the duck's boots... One... Two... Her brother begins to push himself up onto his feet. As she draws the last silver button, a pigeon nests on the roof, a soldier says bye to his mum, a tanker sails out to China... And just as she finishes the button, her brother takes his first step. Silver Buttons presents us with an amazing way of thinking about time and the surrounding world that could really stir a child's imagination.
All three of these books encourage thoughtful contemplation in a way that feels startlingly original, bold and even brave (maybe not so quiet after all.)