Earlier this year, I self-published seven children’s picturebooks—each intentionally without pictures.
Planned that way.
This sounds odd at first, a non sequitur, for what is a picturebook without its pictures?
What could possibly be left?
Quite a bit, when you think about it.
And not only the words.
The format of the children’s picturebook remains in place—available for use—and unique in all of literature.
It calls on the imagination in ways that are not found in any other literary form.
This still amazes me, but I’ve discovered that certain of the picturebook’s strengths persist, even when its pictures are left out.
In fact, without illustrations, its strengths become stronger... more useful...
...but to whom?
To someone very important—the child on the cusp of reading.
A children’s picturebook is not only a product of its pictures, but also and fundamentally of its words and the ways they are laid-out as an invitation... to the reader’s attention.
If anything, the words become more important and, for the prepared mind, attention riveting, once they are no longer hidden in the scaffolding of illustration.
There is a dawning involved, of course, in the mind of the child. You might think of it as a sunrise (sensed first as a glow) that culminates in the pinpoint suddenness of daylight.
The mind of the child is in the process of becoming faster than the eye. As it does, words come to stand as sentinels guarding the gateways of meaning.
But, as sentinels go, these are a friendly lot. Far from stern in the face of a little persistence, they soon act as greeters, even docents.
Each in its own way says, Welcome, and shares what it knows with all who enter the Kingdom of the Written Word.
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