Award-Winning Books Picture Book Challenge 2011 Picture Books Reading Themes When Words are Not Enough

Of Beauties of Sleep and Dreamlike States: David Wiesner’s Free Fall

As we cover Wordless Picture Books here at GatheringBooks for March-April, we would be sorely remiss if we do not include the award-winning classics of David Wiesner. We begin with this lovely book that captures that surreal state of dreaming and wakefulness: Free Fall.

The gift that is sleep… and yes, dreaming. When I was a young child, I used to hate afternoon naps, refuse to sleep early in the evenings, if at all. It seemed like such a waste of time that could be spent reading, playing, chatting with friends, and all those things that occupy a young girl’s time. Now in my mid-30s, I recognize its value, crave its being elusive and enjoy those hours that I can steal just to recharge with a power nap. This book reminds me of all that. And yes, makes me wistful for a time long gone.

Surrealism, Vintage Castles, Dragons, Long-necked Swans with Leaves for Wings, and Pigs as Travel Companions. I love how these elements were intermingled together in this boy’s dream-like state. His initial entry into the dream world reminds me of Alice in Wonderland with a Queen, Kings, and yes checkered grounds resembling his blanket and reminiscent of a chessboard with mountains and clouds in the background.

Does the queen look inviting or scary?

We are then taken to this wordless narrative of knights with flying doves inside their armor, a red-haired green eyed dragon lying peacefully in the forest, and strange creatures with button eyes (reminded me somewhat of Hayao Miyazaki’s small tree creatures).

From Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke - click on the image to be taken to the websource

The reader is also momentarily taken out of the actual narrative with the characters moving out of the pages, the little boy turning into a giant (reminded me of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in Brobdingnag), and pigs acting as cattle or even camels or horses with sacks of personal belongings on their backs, and our little dreaming hero flying on the leafy wings of a long-necked swan with fishes all around him. Simply describing the inimitable artwork of Wiesner is poetry.

Wouldn't you like to join him in his dream?

The jacketflap indicates the poetry that I am assuming describes this dream state that requires no words, really.

In the silence
of a dream
our adventures move
in seamless progression
as we conquer
our dragon,
uncharted lands,
to the highest pinnacle,
and float
in a sudden
free fall
to the new day.
Click on the image to be taken to the websource

David Wiesner is said to have created silent movies and drew wordless comic books back when he was still in high school. He also created a nine feet long painting while he was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design – which he now acknowledges as the possible birth of Free Fall. The jacketflap indicates that in this painting “shapes evolved into new shapes and suggested a story that formed itself fully several years later.” He also realized that the story became even more powerful given its wordless quality. Wiesner was born in New Jersey and has received multiple recognition for his contribution to children’s literature. To know more about him and his works, click here to be taken to his official website.

As I was surfing for possible reference materials for this blogpost, I came upon this youtube link where I found a lovely videoclip based on Wiesner’s Free Fall. Enjoy.

Our Wordless Picture Book Special for March and April 2011

PictureBook Challenge Update: 28 of 72

Free Fall, David Wiesner, Harper Collins Publishers, 1998 – Book borrowed from the Library

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

12 comments on “Of Beauties of Sleep and Dreamlike States: David Wiesner’s Free Fall

  1. Niiice. I will do a David Wiesner feature too – Sector 7. Strangely enough, that also reminded me of a Hayao Miyazaki film. =)


  2. I love how he illustrates the transition from sleep to dream, the water lapping at the bed, the air buffeting the blanket turned ground. Dreams are really fascinating, it’s where all the cool, weird, amazing stuff happens. I suddenly thought of the movie Inception. =)


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Hi Tin. It’s funny that you mentioned Inception. There’s one other book that we are featuring for our Bimonthly theme that would be a perfect match for Inception even better – it’s Suzy Lee’s Alice in Wonderland – a story within a story within a picture book within a picture book. It’s just…. whoa.. surreal. Do watch out for that. I’d love to hear what you think about that. Unbelievably beautiful. We’re just waiting for Suzy’s thoughts/comments about it and we’d post it soon.


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  6. What a gorgeous book! I can completely relate, especially to the issues of the lack of sleep as an adult. Sometimes that’s why I get frustrated with my kiddos and end up telling them that when they are my age they will wish they had so much time to rest. LOL Oh, to be young again! 😉 I’m definitely going to check this one out! Fantastic review!

    PS…Congratulations! You are the winner of the Picture Book reading challenge this month! Send me an email with your shipping address and I’ll get the three Tiger Tales books out to you very soon! (the1stdaughter at gmail dot com)


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Hi Danielle, thanks for dropping by! And we are thrilled to find out that this post won the March round-up for the PictureBook reading challenge. We’d definitely ‘upgrade’ our participation the moment that we complete our target 72 books for the year. =) Hope to visit more sites as well. =)


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