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Once upon a banana

by Jennifer Armstrong
illustrated by David Small
48 pages / 2013

I’d almost forgotten just how wonderful wordless books can be. But then I found this at the library, brought it home, read it once to my three girls, and then, moments later, my youngest, all of three, was off on her own “reading” the book to herself.

The fact is, long before kids can read, many really, really want to. Parents might find them, picture book on their lap, either trying to remember how the story goes, or trying to make up something that will fit the pictures. And all the while, just wishing they could read it for themselves.

Wordless books are a way to build on this enthusiasm. I did need to go through Once Upon A Banana the first time with them, pointing out things like how banana peels are supposed to be slippery, and how the book was giving us hints as to what was coming, by showing us some characters in full color, and the less important characters only in shades of blue.

But they didn’t need much to figure it out. The story is one big chase scene, with monkey owner chasing monkey, and then grocer chasing monkey owner, and then some dogs join the chase, and a skateboarding judge, and a mom and her baby in its stroller. Oh, and there’s a big garbage truck in the mix too. It’s crazy and frantic with lots to look at on every page.

After I gave a short “lesson” on how to read this wordless book, my two pre-readers could do it all on their own. That means that, while wordless books aren’t going to replace me any time soon, they do reduce the demand just a tad on Dad the book reader. And that freed me up to read something a bit more challenging, and at least a little bit closer to my own level, to my older girls.

The only downside to wordless books is that they take hardly any time to read. That means this isn’t the best value for a parent – it’d be better to get it out of the library. But this is a good one for a school library. You can get it at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here.

And for more wordless wonders, see the reviews below on ReallyGoodReads.com:


Up Next


Book Reviews, Graphic novels

It goes without saying: Peanuts at its silent best

by Charles Schultz 2005 / 160 pages There seems something almost wrong with using a multitude of words to recommend a wordless book so let me hit just a few highlights and be done. This is Snoopy and the gang but with not a word spoken in this 50-year collection of "Peanuts pantomime strips." The brilliance manifests in at least three different ways. This is all ages. With no words to struggle over, my 6-year-old, still-learning-to-read daughter enjoyed this just as much as me. Might it be a gem for a reluctant reader? This is unique. We're all used to the regular puns that populate the newspaper comics page and know what to expect, but the sight gags here are humor of a whole different sort, and that curveball is sure fun. This is art. Author Charles Schultz does a lot with a little - not just wordless, but his artistic style is also sparse, and it is amazing to see what he can communicate with just a few lines here and there. I'll only add that if you enjoy It Goes Without Saying, you might be interested in Garfield Left Speechless. It doesn't have the same charm – Garfield is sometimes meanspirited in a way that Snoopy never is – but it has some of the same slapstick creativity. (For a twist, check out the website Garfield minus Garfield ...although this one will be above kids' heads.). ...


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