Books Without Words? Can Such Things Be?

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Books Without Words? Can Such Things Be?

A list for adults and kids alike

When you think about books, you generally imagine words on a page. Pictures may or may not be included. But this isn't always the case. Stories without words are more common for children, but there are some really excellent ones for adults as well.
Here are some good stories without words for both young and old.


The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Arrival was my gateway into the world of stories without pictures. It's the tale of a man who travels to an unknown city to make a new and better life for himself and his family. Everything the man encounters is a mystery to him. Street signs are written in an unintelligible language, and the animals seems strange. The reader is just as confused as the man in the story. After you've read it, you'll want to immediately flip back to the start and read it again.

Blood Song: a Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker 
Blood Song is the story of a woman who escapes her small village as it is attacked by an unknown military. She slips away and travels across the ocean to arrive in a city, which is unlike anything she's ever seen. There she falls in love with a street musician. He soon runs afoul of the law and finds himself in prison, leaving the man and woman unsure what the future holds for them.

Travel by Yuichi Yokoyama
Travel is a book about a train ride...kind of. The book takes the opportunity to study the minutiae of the trip. People and things are observed in great detail, and from multiple angles. Not so much a story with a beginning, middle and end, but more of a meditation on the journey itself. It's the kind of book most people will either love or hate.

Weathercraft by Jim Woodring
Jim Woodring has written the wordless tales of "Frank" for many years now. This comic focuses on one of the minor characters of the "Frank" universe called Manhog. Manhog, who is exactly what his name says, is made to suffer for several pages, before he attains enlightenment. Then he must battle a mind-destroying plant-demon. And that isn't the weirdest thing in the story.


Polo by Régis Faller
A series of books about a dog named Polo. Polo has numerous adventures, including roasting hot dogs over a volcano, ridding in a mushroom spaceship and meeting aliens. He also learns magic, meets a dragon and goes to the circus. These surreal stories will charm both children and adults. Each of them is a delight and stands alone, so they can be read in any order.

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan
A collection of three different stories about loss and how we deal with it. Only one of these is wordless, but it is an excellent one, which is why I include it. In fact, all three stores are good, so be sure to read them all.

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
Dog is Robot's best friend; however, a trip to the beach leaves Robot rusty and unable to move. The pair are forced to separate and venture forth into new, different lives. Robot, who is unable to move, has only his dreams to keep him company, while Dog looks to make new friends. It is a story that beautifully illustrates both the strength and delicacy of relationships.