Saturday, February 9, 2013


Hobbie, Holly. 2012. GEM. New York, NY: Little Brown. ISBN 978031620334 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 3]

This almost wordless picture book by Hobbie is a celebration of a ‘gem’ of nature, a toad. The story begins with a note from a Grandmother to granddaughter, explaining that the pictures are images of the toad’s summer; the toad that the young girl found and wanted to keep. The grandmother captures the toad’s journey, from crossing a busy highway, fleeing an owl, to being the center of attention of numerous baby toads. The amphibian graces every page of this captivating picture book, conveying humor and a personality that is nicely balanced by the factual nature of the images. Finally, the story ends with a letter from the granddaughter, acknowledging that “toads are not pets. They want to be free, like everything does.”

The telling of this story does not need words. Hobbie’s lush images tell the story of one toad’s summer that embraces the natural world, while conveying humor and a personality that will bring smiles to the young reader’s face. Giving children the opportunity to indulge in wordless books gives them the opportunity to develop important literacy skills and the thoroughness of these images carry the thread of the story through a defined period of time.

This book is an excellent introduction to the power of a wordless picture book. This is also a perfect fiction book to the study of amphibians in their natural habitat. A discussion of what constitutes a habitat is nicely balanced by the images in this book while also supporting a study of toads.

Other wordless books for children that convey a clear story line:
Lehman, Barbara. RAINSTORM. ISBN: 978-0618756391
PInkney, Jerry. THE LION & THE MOUSE. ISBN: 978-0316013567

By Christine J. Rayl

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