How can a story come to life with no words and just a small palette of watercolor paints, pen and ink? Ask Holly Hobbie, for it’s undeniable that she has made it happen just beautifully in the (mostly) wordless picture book Gem.
The book does open with a hand-written letter from a grandmother to her granddaughter overlaid atop a gray and white snowy scene. Gram laments the long, cold winter in her note, but she shares the comfort of a memory from a spring experience she had with her granddaughter, reminiscing about a “small wonder in the garden” that her granddaughter called Gem. She makes this introduction to the story that the granddaughter– and we readers, too– will discover in the pages, a story of a toad’s journey to Gram’s spring garden.
With one page turn, the colors turn verdant, evoking warmth and spring renewal, a drastic change from the prior wintry scene. Hobbie’s detailed paintings convey movement and emotion, and the story of a toad’s life plays out in silent pictures that do truly speak louder than words. My own children worried about Gem’s fate as the story progressed, but they were satisfied in the ending which made this nature-loving mom pleased. And just as the book opened, so it closes, this time with granddaughter Hope’s written response to Gram. Her message helps reinforce a wonder for the natural world that children can innately understand. Don’t skip too quickly past the final page with copyright information, for a few tiny gems of information await readers there, adding more facts to support the story told through the pictures.
For its beauty and talented storytelling through images, I highly recommend Gem for young readers and parents alike. This spring-themed book will certainly appeal to children through all seasons of the year!
Dawn’s admitted obsession with picture books only grows deeper after being blown away by amazing new titles. She loves to talk books, along with her other random passions, on her blog, my thoughts exactly.
Carrie, Reading to Know says
Another one that sounds just great! (You’re adding to my list today, Dawn.)
Happy to do so, Carrie! 🙂