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.
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).
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.
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, explore uncharted lands, climb to the highest pinnacle, and float free descending in a sudden free fall to the new day.
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.
Free Fall, David Wiesner, Harper Collins Publishers, 1998 – Book borrowed from the Library