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[Saturday Reads] Wordless Pathways Of A Wanderer

... a metaphor for the inner strength and survival of the fragile.


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.


The Wanderer (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written and Illustrated by Peter Van Den Ende Original title: Zwerveling (Dutch, 2019) Publisher: Levine Querido (2020) ISBN: 1646140176 (ISBN13: 9781646140176) Literary Awards: Zilveren Penseel (2020), Woutertje Pieterse Prijs Nominee (2020) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

It has been awhile since I was taken so strongly by a wordless picturebook – probably the last time was when I read Mel Tregonning’s Small Things (Amazon | Book Depository) which I found to be raw and visceral.

This book on the other hand, is more like a wanderer’s journey through a dreamscape: nightmarish on occasion, but utterly beautiful, too.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 11.12.30 AM

Belgian artist, Van Den Ende, takes the reader along with this flimsy, fragile paper boat to a wandering sea quest – a journey that ultimately leads to home. I anticipate that im/migrants who are taking on a similar path – through land, air, sea – would be able to resonate with this sense of being adrift in the face of the seemingly-infinite and the boundless.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 11.13.58 AM

The journey is not just breathtakingly exquisite, it also led to danger and encounters with the unknown and potentially threatening. This paper boat only had to rely on its folds and texture and capacity to float in order to survive.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 11.14.29 AM

Needless to say, the paper boat did not go through its journey unscathed. It is battered, bruised, and not without scars. Yet, it floats despite its fear, intent on surviving.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 11.16.16 AM

My teenage daughter is about to embark on her own ‘wandering’ as a university student. I suppose this is why I felt the beauty of this wordless picturebook even more keenly: it surfaces the strength of the fragile – as it goes about its surreal journey through unfamiliar seascapes – and its inevitable transformations.

I found this Youtube link of Peter Van Den Ende sharing his process and what inspired him to create this work. Enjoy!

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 46 out of target 100

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).

2 comments on “[Saturday Reads] Wordless Pathways Of A Wanderer

  1. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Have We Become Aliens Unto Ourselves? – Gathering Books

  2. Pingback: [My 2021 in Books] Favourite PictureBooks Read in 2021 – #Top21of21 – Gathering Books

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