By Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director, Worlds of Words Center
A thousand stories await discovery on every page of a wimmelbook: Where is the girl with the balloon going? And the dog with the bone? Why are those two boys wrestling? In 1968, Ali Mitgutsch created his first wimmelbook in Germany, Rundherum in meiner Stadt (All Around My Town), and since then these picturebooks have become a regular presence in many children’s libraries. For a limited time, Arizonans can take in The Whole World on One Page: International Wimmelbooks at the Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures (WOW) in the UArizona College of Education.
“Mitgutsch, who passed away January of 2022, is considered the father of wimmelbooks,” says Kathy Short, director of WOW and professor of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies in the UArizona College of Education. “It seems fitting to share his books and the wimmelbooks he inspired from around the world with our community.”
Using very few words or even none at all, wimmelbooks tell stories about the “whole world” and encourage readers to explore and invent their own tales. This traveling exhibit on loan from the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany showcases books from around the world from the past 20 years that are often based on actual places. The exhibit is organized in four sections: World Views, Fish and Ships, Pleasure! and City and Beyond. These books invite readers to take a closer look, to marvel and to participate.
“It’s fun watching children interact with these books,” says Short, “and it’s also a pleasure to dive into these worlds as an adult. Whether we are guiding a whole class of children on a field trip or sharing a meditative moment with a single visitor, we see connections with these illustrations. The rich details hidden in the scenes on every page capture the imaginations of every age.”
The WOW Center hosts The Whole World on One Page: International Wimmelbooks through May 12, 2023. The exhibit includes poster prints of 44 illustrations provided by the IYL, wimmelbooks from WOW Center collections and hands-on activities. The collection is free to visit and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays (depending on staffing and UArizona holidays). Visitors are encouraged to wear a mask. For more information or to schedule a field trip or guided tour, contact email@example.com.
The Whole World On One Page was conceived by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. For more information on this exhibit, contact Maria Luise Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org. More about this exhibition can be found at https://www.ijb.de/en/exhibitions/travelling-exhibitions/single/the-whole-world-on-one-page-international-wimmelbooks. Information on IYL can be accessed at https://www.ijb.de/en/about-us/the-international-youth-library.