Monday, August 6, 2012

The Treasure Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez (Gecko Press)

The opinion on wordless children's books is often divided. Some argue that without a story for children to follow and identify with, the book loses its impact and impetus. It teaches nothing, because children don't have any guidelines to follow. No narrative means nothing is gained.

I tend to disagree with that summary. A wordless book is like a key to the padlock of a child's imagination and if the art can stand up to it (and Beatrice Rodriguez's illustrations most certainly can) then the story unfolds in a child's mind and if they can't read, you can sit back and listen to one of the best things in the world - a child letting rip with their powerful unfettered imagination.

This story, from Charlotte's perspective, is all about a naughty chicken who steals a magical glowing egg. His friends want some of the egg, so they chase him but the chicken is fast, naughty and sneaky and manages to outrun his pursuers all the way through the book (Alright those aren't her exact words but that's the gist of what she puts across). The book ends rather nicely with the chicken getting his 'reward' but you'll have to 'read' it yourself to find out just what that reward is.

The great thing about wordless books is that you can spin them on their heads the next time round and make the story completely different. Second telling, the chicken is Indiana Jones and he's rescuing a golden treasure from a lost civilisation. Third time around, the chicken has entered the 1500 Metres egg and spoon race, forgot his spoon so he runs the race anyway.

Wordless books. Don't discount them, they're really the most powerful way of experiencing books for little ones who can't yet read.

Charlotte's best bit: The 'reward' the chicken gets (which we won't spoil).

Daddy's favourite bit: Beatrice Rodriguez' knack of imbuing her animal characters with human expressions in just a couple of tiny, tiny strokes. Genius artist!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Playing by the book said...

ooh, no narrative in wordless books?? No way! It's just that the narrative is there in the illustration and so we (by which I mean adults) as text based folk tend to find such books "harder" - in my experience kids LOVE wordless books, because they can enter totally into another world at their own pace and with their own ideas. (but I know I'm preaching to the converted!)

Phil May, ReadItDaddy said...

Kids definitely do love them, and it's great when they go off at a tangent and 'see' a story completely differently to how we see it in our own minds. There are quite a few books that we've reviewed that made us wonder how much better they would've turned out if the text was binned and the pictures spoke for themselves (one or two books have been knocked down a couple of notches on the 'awesome-o-meter' by duff text).

You're definitely preaching to the converted.