Week of March 25, 2012—New Books on My Shelf
Friday, March 30, 2012—Where’s Walrus?
Folks often ask to see my picture book addiction . . . I mean, collection. So here’s a shot. I’m glad to see that the collection looks smaller on my new shelves than I thought. And see all that empty space? Room for more books, for sure! Behind the W divider is our book du jour: Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage (Scholastic Press, © 2011).
I first read about this book in Leonard Marcus’ column in The Horn Book. I grabbed up at copy the next time I was at my local book store. This is a special book indeed. Walrus escapes from the zoo and hides from the zoo keeper in almost-plain sight. Walrus blends in perfectly (with the help of several hats) with a group of men in business suits at a café, water hose-holding firemen, and can-can girls. When he finally joins a high-diving competition (and wins first place), the zoo keeper discovers the perfect way to keep Walrus happy in his home at the zoo.
Here’s what’s most intriguing about this book . . . there are no words. The story is told completely through color-block illustrations. Now you may wonder why a blog devoted to helping picture book writers improve their craft would feature a wordless picture book. The reason: the book tells a wonderful story. The story is well-paced, and you want to turn the page to see what’s next. There is rising tension. There is humor. There is suspense. There is a climax, a resolution, and a denouement.
I can learn a lot from a book like Where’s Walrus? I can learn (or be reminded of) the role of illustrations in picture books. I can learn that more words does not necessarily equal a clearer story. I can learn that I need to think visually when writing. I can learn that it’s a great-big publishing world out there and companies are publishing a variety of books. I can learn that there is still room for innovation in publishing—as this book so well demonstrates.
Where's Walrus? Buy it. Read it. Learn from it.