When my youngest daughter was 3 or 4 years old, she took a couple pages of white typing paper folded them in half and then drew some stick figured people on each half sheet. She announced that she was making a “story book.”
After helping her put the pages together in a “book,” I asked her, “What shall we call the story?”
“The Snowman,” she replied.
There were no words in the book. It was “a wordless book.” In fact, there were many, many words hidden in those pages. Often when we sat together on the sofa or the floor, she would turn the pages of her wordless book and tell me the story of the snowman. The story was always the same, but the words she used to tell the story would change. That little wordless book she made was the door to a magic world that only a child, or an adult guided by a child’s imagination, can inhabit. I still have that little wordless book, both the original and photo copies.
I thought of THE SNOWMAN after receiving a review copy of Mark Ludy’s NOAH: A WORDLESS PICTURE BOOK (New York: Plough Publishing House, 2014). Ludy’s NOAH is a beautifully illustrated book. Every page is filled with colorful, detailed pictures. The faces of Noah, Mrs. Noah, the other people, and even the animals have expressions that invite the “reader” to feel the emotions and enter into the story.
I have difficulty finding the words to express my delight with Mr. Ludy’s illustrations. One feature I noticed that I feel enhances the book’s value is that the character’s are always very human, but generic. By “generic” I mean they are not racial stereotypes. After all, we have no idea what people of Noah’s day looked like, except that they were as human as we are today. A child can believe this is Noah, without unconsciously identifying him as Euro, Afro, or whatever.
I enjoyed the book, but what about a small child, the obvious target audience? To find out, I asked my wife to share it with a four year old friend of ours, Kingsley. Setting together on the sofa, my wife began to turn the pages and tell the story of Noah, pointing to various details in the illustrations as she did so. After finishing, Kingsley ask her to “read” the book again, and again, and again, until they she read it four times. Kingsley told his mother to tell Mrs. Waibel that when she came to visit again she should bring the “Noah book” with me.
There are many good children’s books; some become classics. I feel confident that Mark Ludy’s Noah is one that will enjoy a very long and fruitful life.