Tuesday 24 May 2016

How to read a wordless picture book with Kate Greenaway shortlisted Footpath Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson & Sydney Smith

In honor of the paperback publication and the CILIP Kate Greenaway shortlisting of Footpath Flowers we took a moment to ponder wordless picture books. 

Beautiful, interpretive and fluid, wordless stories invite readers to work together to discover new worlds. They are delightfully free from rules and can be read again and again. 

Aaron Becker, author of Journey, Quest and Return, reckons it's best to think about the process as a discovery. Highlighting the importance of dialogue and interpretation, he starts with the cover and asks his readers questions. 

Aaron repeats this formula with each page, stressing to the adult not to rush, to enjoy asking questions and listening to the answers. For him, the joy is in hearing an interpretation you would never have thought of before.

Footpath Flowers does a beautiful job of mimicking this process when the character notices something interesting in the sleeping man, and places a flower in his shoe. This exchange is completely lost on Dad who is preoccupied with his journey home. 

To read more from Aaron click here

Another blog on wordless picture books, by Tracy Lowe, Senior Early Years Trainer at the Scottish Book Trust, offers key tips with detailed explanations. Like Aaron, she puts a focus on asking questions, describing what you see, pointing things out. Our fave tip is to go beyond the story and try and find a different narrative each time you read it. There are so many stories to be found inside Footpath Flowers, from an adventure in the city, to learning about nature, the importance of family, paying attention to the little things, the joy of colour... 

To read more from Tracy click here

Our last source, book blogger My Little Bookcase, has loads of ideas to make reading wordless picture books interactive and engaging for everyone. Our fave idea is the suggestion of brainstorming key words that suit each page and building your own story out of those words. It's like being a story detective!

To read more from My Little Bookcase click here

Alongside the Kate Greenaway, Footpath Flowers has been recognized across an impressive list of awards and publications including being a Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2015, ALA Notable Picture Book for 2016, Publishers Weekly Notable Picture Book for 2016 and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book for 2015. We've collected together some of the review highlights below. 

'This is [a] book to look at over [and over] again - there are new discoveries every time.'

Independent Bookshop Week supplement, The Guardian

'This is an anthem for kindness, for beauty in unlikely places and for the things a child seas that adults don't.'

Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

'Footpath Flowers, cleverly and beautifully illustrated in monotones with only the occasional splashes of colour, effectively and evocatively leads the reader to explore messages and inferences from the simple story of a child's capacity for finding joy in small things.'

The School Librarian

Click here to read more. 

Check back here in early June to find out the Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway!