08 August 2010

Hog Heaven

There are some books that are so visually complex that words are not necessary. Hogwash by Arthur Geisert is one of them. With his signature pigs as characters, Geisert creates a fanciful machine that washes, rinses and hangs the dirty swine out to dry.

Wordless books can be difficult to share with children. You need to have a knack for storytelling to really do them justice. And for children to "read" them, they have to be old enough to narrate them for themselves. Wordless books are very useful when it comes to developing a sense of story structure and in writing practice. But many people are intimidated by them.

Hogwash is a wordless book that has fascinating pictures. Geisert's illustrations of his imaginary machine will captivate children, boys especially, who like to look at how things work. There is a story to go along with the amazing artwork -- some young pigs go out to play, they get dirty, they go through the hogwash to get cleaned off before heading home. But the story is secondary to the pictures. Isaac would pour over each page of this book, having no idea what the story was about, just examining the machines.

Geisert's other books are equally well illustrated with detailed drawings. And most of them include his signature pigs. Another that we like is Pigs From A to Z. It is an alphabet book about a family of pig siblings building a tree house. The letters of the alphabet are hidden in the detailed drawings. Again, this book is so visually stimulating that the story could have been left out and not missed.

I have to admit, Hogwash is not my favorite book. I am not interested in machines and how things work like Isaac is, so I could easily set this book aside. But it is the perfect book for boys. There is so much to look at and examine they will never get bored with it.

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