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I'll admit that my family is made up of Bill Thomson groupies. My kids and I loved his three earlier books, which redefined what a children's illustration can be. My wife constantly pesters our local librarians to add his books with claims that he is the most talented illustrator never to win a Caldecott. Not yet, anyway. In Chalk, a story about the mischief children can get into with magical chalk, Thomson ups his game. Clearly, the story line is better than past books, even without words. There is a lot of action, a narrative flow, and an open invitation for the readers to supply their words and interpretations. The guarded look back by the boy in yellow on the last page is priceless. The illustrations too are different, although still extraordinarily detailed. There is a brighter palette with some striking colors. The insert drawings on a number of pages that remind one of the technique Jan Brett uses in The Mitten. The dinosaur playground ride is especially interesting. While everything else in the book is photo-realistic, the ride looks more like the computer generated images in Toy Story, an interesting contrast. This book would be a great gift for any child ages 3-8.
The rain was coming down steadily as three children approached the dinosaur rider at the playground. There was a small shopping bag decorated with stars and moons hanging from its jaws. They took the bag and peeked inside only to find several pieces of colorful chalk. One of the little girls knelt down on the ground and began to drawn a picture of the sun. The raindrops suddenly disappeared as the drawing came to life and the sun began to shine. The children shielded their eyes from its brilliant rays. Smiles began to be seen on their faces as the sun rose high in the sky and smiled down on them.
One of the little girls removed her rain gear, took a piece of chalk from the bag and began to draw butterflies. Soon the air was full of monarchs as they emerged from their lined drawings on the ground. The children waved their arms in delight as the magical butterflies filled the air. The boy pulled a green piece of chalk from the back. He drew with an impish grin on his face because he was drawing a dino. All of a sudden his dino became a Tyrannosaurus rex. The children began to scream with fright and ran for shelter. How were they going to get out of this chalk dilemma they had created?
This wordless story about the magical chalk and the things three children created will amaze the reader. Although the story is wordless, the marvelously animated illustrations speak volumes. Each child who "reads" this book can create their own story, much like the create your own adventure stories for the older readers. The words will be different each time, but even the youngest children will enjoy their own creations, much like the children in this story. This is a fun, adventuresome book that will encourage creativity without having to give thought to mispronounced words or difficulty in reading a passage, because every rendition of this story will be perfect!
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We checked this out from the library more than a few times--my kids, then 2 and 5 years, love it. I am buying this as a birthday gift for a cousin's 3 year old son who she has chosen to speak to exclusively in Spanish. Because of the language barrier I don't speak with the cutie patootie often and I was scared to buy a Spanish book as I am not fluent myself and therefore cannot vouch for a translated version of an English book I love. This book removed the language barrier. I know that she and he can discuss this book at length in whatever language they choose and they will enjoy it as much as me and my kids enjoyed it. The illustrations are breathtakingly real and the concept is so clever that I feel this is an excellent addition to anyone's collection. It is absolutely gift worthy, but more importantly, this book would work for anyone in any language. Enjoy!
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Our favorite wordless picture book is Chalk, by Bill Thomson. We chose Chalk for many reasons.
First, we chose Chalk because it was magical. For example, when any of the characters drew something it appeared and came alive (like the sun, the butterflies, and the dinosaur). Also when they drew the rain, the dinosaur melted away, and then a few seconds later the dinosaur vanished and never came back alive.
Another reason we chose Chalk is because the author used hand painting to illustrate the book, and it was not computer generated. The book had beautiful pictures that were well designed with lots of colors and a ton of detail. In addition, the author chose to use colors instead of black, and white. The illustrations were neatly colored, and they were shiny and unique.
The last reason is because the author chose to bring imagination alive by using chalk. They used a dinosaur and dinosaurs are extinct. They used monarch butterflies and rain to get the dinosaur to vanish. This book made our imagination more special. This book is really epic and stupendous. Most of all Chalk made our imagination even bigger. If we didn't read Chalk, our imagination would go down.
Finally, we had a great time looking at this wordless picture book. We enjoyed it so much that everyone voted for Chalk. Our minds exploded when the dinosaur came alive. If you like books with magic, realistic, detailed illustrations, and exquisite imagination then this book will blow your top off.
Bill Thomson lives in Southington, Connecticut with his wife, Diann, and their three sons, Billy, Nik, and Ethan. Bill illustrated the picture books, Karate Hour, Building With Dad, Baseball Hour, and Soccer Hour; and he also created the wordless books, CHALK and FOSSIL. Bill teaches at the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford where he is a Professor of Illustration.