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

Whodunit the PictureBook Style – 2-in-1 Wordless Mysteries by Fernando Krahn: Catch that Cat (1978) and The Mystery of the Giant Footprints (1977)

Fernando Krahn himself. Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

Since we can not get enough of this Chilean cartoonist who recently passed away this February 2010, we do a tribute to some of Fernando Krahn’s works. While we have already featured a 2-in-1 of Amanda and the Mysterious Carpet and his The Creepy Thing (as could be found here), I figured it would not hurt to do another 2-in-1 Whodunit Wordless Picturebook perfect for our Bimonthly theme “When Words are Not Enough” for this March-April, 2011.

The Mystery of the Giant Footprints (1977)

Snowy Gingerbread Cottages. Now that it’s extremely humid in this part of the world, it is refreshing to read/view books that have a cold-wintry feel to it. Kind of reminds me of our feature of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman and Krahn’s Self-Made Snowman. This one, though, has a whodunit feel to it with mysterious giant footprints in the snow, missing children, and a chase through the snowy forest with only footprints as clues. No murder, crime, nor mayhem. But mystery? A resounding yes.

Footprints in the Snow. The book begins with a family in the dining table, their routine disrupted by something odd and mysterious outside the window.

I like the gingerbread-house-in-the-prairie quality of this cottage in the snowy woods.

Now how would you feel if you see giant unknown tracks right outside your door – out in the middle of the woods during winter time? It is not surprising then that the father in the story immediately turned to his rifle hanging firmly on the wall.

And our papa immediately got his rifle - there must be some fearsome beast in the woods with these footprints!

Intrepid Explorers and Clues that Lead you to the Heart of the Mystery. While the adult’s instinct is self-preservation and protection, we see that our two children have a different thought in mind. Rather than flee or cower in fear, they went right into the heart of the mystery – their curiosity guiding them. What creature is making such giant footprints in the snow? And so, the reader is now shown three sets of footprints as we see how the children chase after the mysterious creature.

MORE sets of footprints! A clue, a clue! sez Blue's Clues.

The parents are now, inevitably, beside themselves. Frantic at the thought of their children being out there with whatever creature is leaving such a huge print in the snow. Krahn takes us then into this journey ala Finding Nemo of both parents (and most of the townsfolk armed with their own rifles) searching for the missing children across frozen lakes…

Frozen lake, yikes!

and across something as dangerous as this log in the middle of the woods.

The kids were pretty determined to find out what this creature is for them to even cross this log. That's tenacity for you.

Truly great to be reminded on occasion of the fearlessness of youth and the feeling of invulnerability that only childhood can bring. I shall leave it to you to discover whether the children were found in the end and exactly what kind of creature leaves such huge footprints.

Catch that Cat (1978)

Where the Black Cat leads, I shall follow. While technically this book does not have that mysterious quality similar to the Giant Footprints, or any hint of crime that needs solving, I feel that chasing a creature across the streets, the plank of the ship docks, and being accidentally taken in as cargo for a long voyage that you do not know anything about gives that feeling of excitement, danger, and breathtaking uncertainty that only the wordless art of Fernando Krahn can bring.

And so it all began in this boy's home... with a cat that does not want to be caught.

We are then swept into this young boy’s adventure as he focuses his energies on nothing but the cat and his intention to catch this fleeing, flying and extremely agile black creature that jumps from one place to the next.

Look at how each image seems to burst with so much life.. so much movement.. truly a master cartoonist.

Lost at Sea. Things become a tad complicated when this cat ventures into the ship docks where quite a number of ships are waiting for their cargo before they depart for some faraway foreign land (one of the huge crates even has “Singapore” stamped to it – how nice). We see in the book image below how our little boy, unmindful of any kind of trouble that may befall him, chased the cat down this open wooden crate:

Uh-oh. This looks dangerous.

Unbeknownst to our little explorer, this cargo belongs to a vessel named Catalina which is now about to depart. Hah. While the boy finally caught up with his elusive cat, he is in for greater trouble than he bargained for.

aha! what is a young boy like you doing in a ship like this?

Leap of Faith and Taking the Journey wherever it Leads. What is most significant for me in these two books is the reminder from Krahn’s children that sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith. Yes, there are dangers that lurk everywhere and oftentimes our pathways take us to the most unexpected places we may have never dreamed of going. These children show us this value of risk-taking to accomplish their goal, to satisfy their curiosity, and their faith that yes, things are gonna be alright.

I also take a moment to share with you some of my gingerbread house photos as inspired by Krahn’s Mystery of the Giant Footprints. And so while we are baking in the heat and humidity here, I get cooled by these lovely photos and the recollection of winter. =)

This house looks kind of creepy, truth be told. On our way to Tahoe.
Ice candy cars and picture perfect trees. And a snow-covered inn called Strawberry Lodge - the tropical girl in me rejoices at the sight of such wonders. =)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 46/47 of 72

The Mystery of the Giant Footprints by Fernando Krahn. E. P. Dutton New York, 1977. Book borrowed from the NIE Library.

Catch that Cat by Fernando Krahn. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1978. Book borrowed from the NIE 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).

3 comments on “Whodunit the PictureBook Style – 2-in-1 Wordless Mysteries by Fernando Krahn: Catch that Cat (1978) and The Mystery of the Giant Footprints (1977)

  1. Pingback: Finding One’s Place in the World: Home (2004) and Window (1991) – a Jeannie Baker 2-in-1 Special |

  2. Pingback: Reading in April’s Heat: An April Round-up |

  3. Pingback: List of Wordless Picture Books: A Gathering Books Recommendation |

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