'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review: The Umbrella

I have a confession to make: I'm not a fan of wordless picture books. Even typing that feels like I am committing literary sacrilege. After all, I'm one who sings praises of the unusual, strange and different. Surely, wordless picture books should fit the bill.

That being said, composing a successful wordless picture book is an enormous challenge. The story needs to be cohesive and understandable through images alone, and that's no easy feat. Husband and wife team Ingrid and Dieter Schubert have risen to this challenge beautifully.

When a little dog happens upon an umbrella, the umbrella catches the wind bringing along pup for the ride. Cruising the wind, the umbrella takes the little dog to different settings; from seascape to landscape, the dog sees vast and sublime scenery and animals (and readers do too!).

I approached this book with some apprehension because of my stated bias. But the pictures - oh the pictures! Each double page spread is a work of art. I'm going to use the word 'yummy' as a descriptor here because I could eat these stunning pages.

As each page turns, there is just enough connection from one spread to the next to have a coherent story, but enough of a gap that you can ogle this book over and over and come up with a completely different scenario to use for your imagined story. That, folks, is one of the key benefits of a wordless picture book.

The Umbrella presents some opportunities for valuable learning discussions; discussions about a child's relationship to the world as well as the world itself.

I can't say I'm a wordless picture book convert, but I can tell you that if they are your thing then you should absolutely have a look at The Umbrella. If not, this is a wonderful book through which to test the wordless waters.

Title: The Umbrella
Author/Illustrator: Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
Publisher: Book Island, $27.95 RRP
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780994109859
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book

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