Depictions of African Americans in American Childrens Picture by tyndale


									                                             Every Picture Tells a Story:
                                       The Art of Narrative in Wordless Books

                           Allen Library 1st Floor, University of Washington, June 21 – July 7, 2006

                                                        Visual Storytelling

 The Oxford English Dictionary defines a book as “a written document,” but the 20th century produced a robust tradition
 of books without any writing at all. Such wordless books rely on visual cues to tell their stories, drawing on traditions of
 wordless story-telling such as pantomime, medieval stained glass windows, African American “story quilts,” cartoons, and
 silent films, to name a few.
                                              A 20th-Century Phenomenon

 In the early 20th century, “woodcut novelists” like Lynd Ward began exploring narrative elements in their art, leading to a
 mini-explosion of wordless books for adults and contributing to the eventual development of the modern graphic novel.
 Although scattered examples of wordless children’s stories existed before 1970, the last three decades have seen an
 increase in the production of picture-stories for children, which are more easily re-purposed for a global audience than
 are books that require expensive translation.
                                                     Not Just For Children

 This display presents a selection of narratives told entirely in pictures. While the tradition of illustrated children’s books
 lends itself more easily to wordless picture-stories, several notable “picture novels” contain mature themes and were
 clearly aimed at adult audiences.

Books on Display:                             Quentin Blake. Clown. (1996).                   Tomie de Paola. Flicks. (1979).
                                              Clowns traditionally perform in                 The title and the audience
Mitsumasa Anno. Anno’s Journey.               gestures and actions rather than                members who appear in silhouette
(1978).                                       words, making a clown the perfect               at bottom of the pages pay tribute
A framing story – a man journeys              protagonist in Blake’s charming                 to the old art of silent film.
across the countryside –                      tale.
showcases many mini-dramas                                                                    Tomie de Paola. Sing, Pierrot, Sing:
within the narrative: a duel, a               Raymond Briggs. The Snowman.                    A Picture Book in Mime. (1983).
courtship and wedding, a family               (1986).                                         Again, de Paola takes a traditional
packing up and moving house.                  This fantasy of a snowman who                   silent art – pantomime – and turns
The footrace that begins on the               comes to life is perhaps the most               it into “silent” book.
page shown here ends, after some              popular wordless book of all.
complications, 3 pages later.                 Briggs uses comic-strip visual                  Eric Drooker. Blood Song: A Silent
                                              images resembling animation stills              Ballad. (2002).
Jeannie Baker. Home. (2004).                  to suggest the progression of the               Drooker is one of the few
In this story a window functions as           story’s action – a technique also               contemporary graphic novelists to
a story frame to show the passing             used by several other books in this             tell book-length stories entirely in
of time as the neighborhood seen              display.                                        pictures.
in glimpses beyond it undergoes a
renewal.                                      Ruth Carroll. What Whiskers Did.                Tom Feelings. The Middle Passage:
                                              (1932).                                         White Ships, Black Cargo. (1995).
Molly Bang. The Grey Lady and the             The earliest 20th-century example               Feelings, a prolific children’s book
Strawberry Snatcher. (1980).                  of a wordless children’s book in the            illustrator, considered The Middle
This Caldecott Honor Book is a                UW collection, What Whiskers Did                Passage to be his crowning
variation on popular visual “puzzle”          is contemporaneous to the work of               achievement. Although it is often
books. Here, the reader is                    Ward and Patri, displayed in the                classified as children’s literature, the
challenged to pick out the “Grey              adjoining case.                                 book’s scenes of violence, cruelty,
Lady,” almost invisible against the                                                           rape, and suicide were clearly not
grey background.                                                                              meant for the usual picture book

                                        Guillermo Mordillo. Crazy Cowboy.         Gabrielle Vincent. A Day, a Dog.
John Goodall. Puss in Boots.            (1976).                                   (1999).
(1990).                                 Humorous stories lend themselves          Vincent’s spare line drawings,
One storytelling technique              particularly well to visual               evocative and unusual in the
employed in wordless books is to        storytelling. Mordillo employs            heavily-illustrated children’s book
rely on the reader’s familiarity with   elements from tall-tales and              market, set this wordless tale apart.
a popular tale. Goodall’s Puss in       cartoons to tell this slapstick yarn.
Boots is a good example of the                                                    Tatjana Von Hauptmann. Hurra,
technique.                              Jan Ormerod. Sunshine. (1981).            Eberhard Wutz Ist Wieder Da!.
                                        Ormerod uses familiar morning             (1979).
John Goodall. The Adventures of         routines to help children make            This German title points out the
Paddy Pork. (1968).                     sense of the story. Here, a               international appeal of wordless
Here the antique illustrations          succession of smaller images              stories. On this page, a story-within-
match the old-fashioned feel of the     indicates progression of the action       a-story unfolds as Eberhard’s
story. In many of Goodall’s             in small successive steps.                relatives gather to watch a silent
wordless books, full-page pictures                                                film of his travels.
alternate with half-pages that are      Giacomo Patri. White Collar : A
turned over as the action unfolds.      Novel in Linocuts. (1975 edition;         Lynd Ward. Gods’ Man : a Novel in
                                        first published in 1940).                 Woodcuts. (1968 ed; first
Shirley Hughes. Up and Up.              This picture-novel portraying the         published 1929).
(1986).                                 struggles of a middle-class family        Heavily influenced by the German
In Hughes’ humorous wish-               during the Great Depression               woodcut artist Frans Masereel and
fulfillment fantasy, the depiction of   includes images of class struggle,        his depictions of human struggle,
action sequences in many small          unionization, and abortion. Patri         Ward produced 6 “woodcut
panes is a technique borrowed           self-published the novel in 1940          novels” between 1929 and 1937,
from comic strips.                      after he was unsuccessful in              and is sometimes referred to as the
                                        interesting a commercial publisher        “grandfather of the graphic novel.
Ezra Jack Keats. Clementina's           in his work.                              Gods’ Man, completed when
Cactus. (1999).                                                                   Ward was only 25, is the first and
The colorful illustrations appeal to    Eric Rohmann. Time Flies. (1994).         best-known of these works.
young readers, while a very simple      Rohmann plays with time and
story makes words superfluous.          space as a bird appears to be             Holden Wetherbee. The Wonder
                                        transported to prehistoric times          Ring: A Fantasy in Silhouette.
Frans Masereel. Passionate              and back again as it flies through a      (1978).
Journey: a Novel in 165 Woodcuts.       dinosaur skeleton. It’s up to the         Here silhouettes, popular in
(1948 edition; first published 1919).   reader to determine whether these         Victorian times, are used to tell an
[English edition of Mein                events really happen or whether           old-fashioned story.
Stundenbuch].                           the story is a flight of imagination.
Flemish artist Masereel completed                                                 David Wiesner. Free Fall. (1988).
20 wordless novels in the 1910s         Peter Spier. Noah's Ark. (1977).          Wiesner’s dreamscape
and 1920s and strongly influenced       Spier assumes his readers are             incorporates visual elements
the American woodcut artist Lynd        familiar with the Noah story, and         displayed on the first pages of the
Ward. His picture-novels include        here fleshes out the daily details of     book into the action of the young
Die Passion eines Menschen, Die         caring for animals upon the Ark.          boy’s dream – a variation on the
Sonne, Die Idee, and Geschichte                                                   visual games common in wordless
ohne Worte. Passionate Journey          Brinton Turkle. Deep in the Forest.       books.
(Mein Stundenbuch) is generally         (1976).
considered to be his greatest work.     This book can be read as a
                                        straightforward story of a bear cub
Mercer Mayer. Frog Goes to              who wanders into a cabin, but to          More Interesting Examples:
Dinner. (1985).                         understand its subtle humor the
Mayer’s popular series of stories       reader must be familiar with the          Susan Bonners. Just in Passing.
featuring a nameless boy and his        tale “Goldilocks and the Three            (1989).
pet frog employs comic vaudeville       Bears.”
elements and slapstick humor to                                                   Peter Collington. A Small Miracle.
advance the action.                                                               (2002).

Fernando Krahn. Sleep Tight, Alex
Pumpernickel. (1982).

Tatjana Von Hauptmann. A Day in
the Life of Petronella Pig. (1982).

Lynd Ward. Wild pilgrimage: a
Novel in Woodcuts. (1932).

Peter Wezel.The Good Bird. (1964).

Ed Young. Up a Tree: A Wordless
Picture Book. (1983).

To find more wordless books,
search the UW Libraries’ catalog
( for the
Genre/Form “Stories Without

For Further Information:
“Wordless Books: Promise and
Possibilities, a Genre Comes of
Age,” by Sarah Dowhower, in
Yearbook of the American Reading
Forum, vol. 17 (1997).

“Turning the Visual into the Verbal:
Children Reading Wordless Books,”
by Judith Graham, in What’s in the
Picture?, ed. Janet Evans. (1998).

Words about Pictures: the
Narrative Art of Children's Picture
Books, by Perry Nodelman. (1988).

Wordless/Almost Wordless Picture
Books, by Virginia E. Richey and
Katharyn E. Puckett. (1992).

Storyteller Without Words: the
Wood Engravings of Lynd Ward,
with text by Lynd Ward. (1974).

      -- Kathleen Collins, June 2006


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