Introduction and Editors’ Note
This issue is a slight departure from the usual format of WOW Review. Our theme is visual narratives, books that tell stories visually with minimal written text. While these books are sometimes referred to as wordless or silent books, we prefer visual narratives to emphasize the rich meanings that can be communicated artistically.
In addition to reviews of six visual narratives in this issue, we include two related reviews that highlight the importance and power of images in communicating across cultures and languages. One is a review of Perception: A Photo Series, a photographic essay that challenges racial slurs of Indigenous peoples. Another is information on the IBBY Lampadusa project that provides visual narratives from around the world for resident and refugee children on a tiny island in the Mediterranean. Through this project, children who have lost everything are invited to hear and tell stories and imagine a better future.
Several of the visual narratives reviewed in this issue celebrate the all-important imagination of children. In Blue Rider, a child takes a ride into imagination on the back of a blue horse. In Flotsam, a child looks at photos found in an old camera that floated in on the tide. The fantastical and imaginative ocean worlds are captured in the color photos along with black and white photos that capture previous “finders” and photographers of the old-fashioned camera.
Other books profile social issues. In Owl Bat, Bat Owl, the two species learn to live and work together, building a community across divides. Kindness in a community is highlighted in A Circle of Friends when one boy share his loaf of seeded bread with a homeless man who in turn uses some of the seeds to feed birds. Community action is the focus of Letters to a Prisoner when a father is unjustly imprisoned, but eventually released when thousands of people deluge the prison with letters requesting his release. Finally, environmentalism is taken up in Most of the Better Things in the World as a tiger travels across pristine landscapes.
WOW Review has profiled other visual narratives in past issues. Use the search function to look for “wordless” or “visual narrative” to find a complete list. Hello Mr. Hulot (David Merveille, 2013), Here I Am (Patti Kim & Sonia Sanchez, 2014), and The Island (Armin Greder, 2008) are examples that demonstrate the range in subject matter that can be told with only images and their appeal to readers of all ages, young children through adults.
We invite you to read and savor the way images can tell the whole story! As you read, consider submitting a review for our future issues. The editors welcome reviews of any children’s or YA book that highlights intercultural understanding and global perspectives around these themes:
Volume 13, Issue 1 – Open theme (Fall 2020) – submission deadline: September 1, 2020. Reviews of a children’s or YA book that highlights intercultural understanding and global perspectives.
Volume 13, Issue 2 – Themed (Winter 2021) – submission deadline: November 15, 2020
The editors welcome reviews of books that feature another language. The author may insert another language into the text (She said “Voilà!” as she drew une grande ligne with a flourish), or may include two languages next to each other (He glanced at him / Il lui a jetté un coup d’oeil).
Susan Corapi and Prisca Martens, Co-Editors