Adventures of Polo: wordless picture book is a bedtime delight


19 Responses to “Adventures of Polo: wordless picture book is a bedtime delight”

  1. mattson says:

    We adore this series. When the family is ready, be sure to check out Faller’s ‘The Runaway Book’, another wordless wonder.

  2. mattson says:

    We adore this series. When the family is ready, be sure to check out Faller’s ‘The Runaway Book’, another wordless wonder.

  3. Just_Ok says:

    The fact that Polo doesn’t bother with proper immigration and customs procedures and paperwork is probably a metaphor for something.

  4. esme says:

    My 4-year-old son also loves “talking stories”.  We generally start with a train magically showing up in front of our house one day, which whisks the whole family off on some adventure.  I often use these to talk about whatever trip or big event is coming up next, to give him a sense of what the journey will be like, who’s going to be there, what we’ll be doing, etc.

    Our first child was very easy-going.  We lived abroad and did a ton of international travel when she was 1-4, so she was an experienced traveler and didn’t need a lot of prep for adventures large or small.  But my son has more anxiety about upcoming changes, and I find these stories a good way to talk through things, or choose to talk about something else as he steers the story.

  5. cellocgw says:

    Just one concern:  I’m in the camp that believes most kids are quite ready to learn to read by age 3 or so, and prefer books with words in them so that children can pick up on the words as well as the story.  While my daughter loved the Good Dog, Carl series and The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher,  I’m more comfortable w/ integrating images and text in storytelling/reading.

    • Wowbagger_Infinitley_Prolonged says:

      There’s more to literacy than just vocabulary.  Wordless books help readers understand basics like story structure, sequencing, inferencing, predicting, and left-to-right reading. They also encourage close, careful readings because if readers speed through,  they may miss characterizations or story elements in the details of
      the illustrations. And even more so than traditional books, wordless books
      allow readers to create their own meaning based on personal experiences.

      That personal connection is what makes a reader.  So if your daughter enjoys wordless books, by all means, keep giving them to her!  If she’s ready to move on from Polo, be sure to check out David Weisner, Mitsumasa Anno, Jeannie Baker or Raymond Briggs. 

      Young readers often like to alternate challenging books with more comfortable, familiar ones.  Just like ours, their brains need a break every so often.  So as your daughter progresses, don’t be surprised if she also wants to read something that’s “too easy” for her.  Variety is key for keeping readers motivated.

      (Why yes, I am a children’s librarian…)

      • Cory Doctorow says:

        Thanks for the awesome reply, Wowbagger! For the record, Poesy reads LOTS of books, aall with words, except this one. I was really delighted to find a picture-only book we could share.

      • cellocgw says:

        Well, actually, my little girl is now 24 and going for a PhD in Engineering, so she doesn’t get read to any more :-) .  But thanks for the comments– someday I’ll have grandkids to read to.

    • adrianoconnor says:

      @boingboing-9a2241c2015fb98771d97a9828db1d73:disqus : If the child is already learning to read, adding wordless books like this in to the mix isn’t going to set them back or delay their learning. The fact you read to them at all has already given them a huge boost — the children who suffer most (reading wise) are those who don’t get bed-time stories (or nursery rhymes/action songs) at all.

      I have a little girl who has not long turned 3, and she’s learning to read right now. It’s a remarkable and magical process, and I’m really pleased because she’s enjoying every minute of it. I’m really quite interested in getting this particular book for her — an interactive iPad version would also be very tempting (maybe for car journeys), especially if she could choose where the story goes rather than following a linear sequence.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      I don’t have a lot to add that wasn’t stated better by Wowbagger (who has had plenty of time to gain expertise, amirite?) and Adrian O’Connor, but I just want to reiterate that it’s not an either/or proposition.  My wife and I were both early readers, and our daughter is currently learning.  Our son Milo is not yet two, and loves to be read to just like his sister does.  If it’s even possible, our two kids have too many books, most with text but several without, and they get something out of both kinds.

      One of my earliest memories is of my oldest sister (who would have been about nineteen at the time) reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster to me when I was four or five.  The book has some wonderful illustrations by Jules Feiffer, but it’s really a 256-page novel which is aimed generally at older kids.  Still, I found it enchanting even as a preschooler, and it became my favorite book for my whole childhood (you’ll note my son is named after the hero of the book).

      Like Adrian said, the important thing isn’t really what you read to your kids, but the fact that you read anything at all to them.  It wouldn’t do to fill a small child’s bookshelves with nothing but picture books that contain no text, just as it wouldn’t do to load them up with completely non-illustrated text-heavy books.  But a variety of book styles is ideal.  One should not fear a child losing her edge in literacy because she occasionally reads picture books.  A love of books in general, all kinds, is the general goal, is it not?

  6. burningchrome says:

    Another amazing book in this vein is Flotsam by David Weisner. It’s the story of a boy that finds an underwater camera on the beach and decides to develop the film. It is a feast for the eyes and imagination of children and parents.

  7. Jess Gulbranson says:

    I have always loved the interactive approach.  Did talking stories with my older kids (though the ex seemed to think that ‘reading outside the lines’ was subversive and weird), and my 2 1/2 year old daughter loves them even more.  We’re actually working on a webcomic right now- I think it’s important for kids to understand as soon as possible that not only is it okay for them to create, but their creations have lasting value.

  8. McMe says:

    And to think I was looking for this one at the Library yesterday but couldn’t recall the name of the main character. Truly a delightful series. 

  9. Neal Porter says:

    Just a note to thanks to Cory and to Wowbagger for their perceptive comments about Polo and wordless books in general.  As Polo’s American editor it’s frustrating to  hear that parents are often stymied by books without words.  Two other exceptional titles I’d like to call to folks’ attention are Craig Frazier’s Bee & Bird and Dennis Nolan’s Sea of Dreams, the latter due out this fall. 

  10. Kip Rood says:

    I fell in love with Polo as well.  When our family bought all of the books, I realized there were a few French editions that hadn’t been “translated” yet.  (For a wordless book, there’s not much of a point to this obviously.)  So, we purchased the other copies from’s French site.égis-Faller/dp/2747032248/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1étoile-magique-Régis-Faller/dp/2747029948/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b


  11. Mary Dreyer says:

    Reminds me of a very oldie, Harold and the Purple Crayon, a tale of liberation and empowerment. OK, it has words, but still.

  12. has a sweet little interactive world. Click on “le monde de Polo” on the right-hand side to get there. It used to be the entirety of the site, but it looks like they’ve been expanding since I last visited.

  13. a_giedt says:

    Also try Owly by Andy Runton

    Wonderful, Gentle and Funny.  This was a household favorite at my place for quite a stretch…

  14. Katie Hynes says:

    Another wonderful wordless book that we loved when my now 25 and 20 year-olds were young was “The Angel and the Soldier Boy’ by Peter Collington. And of course the ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’ series….

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