Review posted July 7, 2016.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2015. 36 pages.
The Whisper is a mystical, highly symbolic picture book about imagination.
The main story is that a girl is given a book by her teacher. But when she gets home and opens the book, there are no words inside, only pictures.
As the little girl paged through the wordless book, she heard the wind blow and then a small whisper:
“Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed.
You can imagine the words.
You can imagine the stories.
Start with a few simple words and imagine from there.
Remember: beginnings, middles, and ends of stories can always be changed and imagined differently.
There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imagining – imagining just is.”
The whisper sounded so knowing and wise to the little girl that she opened the book to the first page and began.
From there, we see each lavishly painted page and hear the beginning of the story the little girl tells about each one.
There are definitely recurring themes in the paintings (In fact, themes that tie in with Pamela Zagarenski’s other books) which also tie in with the stuffed animals in the girl’s room, and the fox who followed her home.
And that all sounds a lot simpler than this book really is. There are layers upon layers. After a few readings, I’m still not at all sure I’ve grasped everything that’s going on.
You could also use this book as a simple Seek-and-Find book with the various recurring elements happening on each page.
But the overarching idea is this: You can make stories yourself.
And you will be glad you did.
Oh, and my favorite painting is the one of the wizard who blows bubbles in the shapes of things and fills the harbor with enormous white whales.