cover image Words


Christoph Niemann. Greenwillow, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-245550-5

In a remarkable compilation of more than 300 words, Niemann again proves himself a master of evoking emotions, cause and effect, and other concepts in images drawn in chunky black line. Small sentences and rhymes manifest (“come/ here/ help/ him/ slowly/ turn/ around/ again”); opposites such as over and under appear side by side; compound words and idiomatic phrases are suggested (heavy, hand); and evocative words such as lollygag and somnambulist are thrown in for kicks. Throughout, Niemann scatters subtle correlations for readers to tease out: water, which is pictured as a fish happily ensconced in a bowl, is shown opposite Earth, seen from outer space. (Also, it’s almost certain that this is the same fish seen earlier outside the same bowl, looking far less happy and joined by the word must.) Most images appear against white backgrounds, but bold backdrops of teal, marigold, and other colors are used to highlight homonyms (in one, a single match stick finds its romantic match on the facing page). It’s a dynamic exploration of language, saturated with connections for readers to draw and redraw. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)