I Have No Words…

As a picture book author, I, of course, am a big fan of well-written text. Some of my favorite picture book spreads are filled with sentence after beautiful/funny/wild/unexpected sentence. Some of my favorite picture book spreads give us one perfect line that is so good it makes me pause and wish-wish-wish I had thought of it first. Yet other favorites have only one word, but you better believe each of those spreads has the absolute right word.

Oftentimes, though, a two-page picture book spread is even better without a single word.

Extraordinary Jane, written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison, contains one of my Favorite Worldless Spreads of 2014.








Poor Jane! Everyone else in her circus troupe can do extraordinary things…horse-riding tricks, acts of strength, death-defying stunts! But Jane just can’t find her special talent. In a desperate attempt, she tries to tackle an impressive balancing ball routine only to have it end in disaster.



But does Hannah Harrison tell us all about the outcome of this disaster? Does she broadcast every detail of the suffering? Nooooo. She gives us this gorgeous and hilarious two-page wordless spread (aside from the words on the cover of the bear’s magazine) that shows us the aftermath of Jane’s latest attempt at uncovering a talent.


Another 2014 release that has a doozy of a wordless two-page spread is Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares. This book actrually has NINE wordless two-page spreads, but my favorite one–the doozy–is the final one.


A grumpy yellow bird just wants some peace and quiet. Much to his increasing annoyance, however, one animal after another joins him. Finally, he can’t take it anymore and throws a tantrum. Everyone leaves. Well, almost everyone.

I really, really, really want to share this wordless two-page spread from Pardon Me! so we can collectively ooh and ah over it, but I can’t. It’s for your own good. Honest. I’m doing you a favor. To see that delicious spread, you need to read the book. It will make you appreciate the spread all the more. I promise!

I will, however, share some other Pardon Me! goodies.

To view the trailer for Pardon Me! as well as to check out the “the story behind the story,” click here:

Pardon Me! Goodies

Do YOU have a favorite wordless two-page spread? If so, please tell us about the book in the comments.

—Tammi  Sauer

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit tammisauer.com and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.


  1. My new favorite wordless PB is Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown. There are so many two-page and single spreads to love in this gem of a book, but I think my favorite is the spread containing a sequence of four illustrations where the clown boy says goodbye to the farmer–it’s sweet and joyful and poignant.

    I just absolutely LOVE this book. It should definitely win the Caldecott this year! It will make you laugh, cry and touch your heart.

  2. The wordless spread in CITY DOG COUNTRY FROG (Mo WIllems) is the saddest I’ve ever seen…

  3. Love this post Tammi! I really agree with Maria regarding The Farmer and The Clown – and that scene! It speaks volumes without a single word.

  4. Three more gems to put on my list! Great post, Tammi. I can’t wait to read them! :0)

  5. Some of my favorites are made of almost only wordless spreads, such as BEN’S DREAM and other PB by Chris Van Allsburg. Rather counter my self-interest as a text-only writer…

  6. Great additions!

    Maria, I also like what happens with the clown’s hat on those pages. 🙂

  7. My daughters and I just read Pardon Me at the bookstore this weekend – and I must agree it says so much with so little! A great pick.

  8. I put these two on hold. I just read The Farmer and the Clown, too! Love!

  9. More must-reads for my ever-growing list! As for books with wordless spreads, I immediately thought of THE JOURNEY by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small. I love how David uses every bit of space in his books for storytelling, including the paste-downs/front/back ends. Interspersed with Sarah’s journal entries are multiple gorgeous wordless spreads that cause you to pause and linger over the illustrations and the story.

  10. BILLY TWITTERS AND HIS BLUE WHALE PROBLEM has a couple of no word spreads that are amazing! My daughter’s current favorite, I AM OTTER, has a cute one, too.

  11. So true, Tammi! And think how much time and thought go into those wordless spreads to make them carry so much story weight. Wow.

  12. Picture books kill me with their cuteness. I want to own both of these right now! =)

  13. JUST requested Pardon Me from my library. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    Thanks for this post – fascinating!

  14. Most of the wordless picture books I’ve read so far are excellent, and I’m glad I have two more to add to the to-read list now. Thanks!

  15. Thank you, Tammi and all you commenters! I have a wordless spread in my latest manuscript and I’ve been wondering how much story and passage of time can be effectively conveyed in one wordless spread. Your suggestions give me a list of go-to books to see how to make it work.

  16. Great post! That’s one of the wonderful, unique things about picture books–that pictures tell part of the story. I will have to check out the books you mentioned. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t think of a wordless two-page spread off the top of my head. However, this post reminds me of my favorite word-full spread, and that’s in LEONARDO THE TERRIBLE MONSTER, by Mo Willems. That book also has some nearly wordless spreads (one or two words on the page) that make a hilarious contrast.

  17. my son loves all of david wiesner’s books. the wordless spread in tuesday with the frogs floating on lilypads has to be at the top of my list. we also picked up aaron becker’s quest book recently and that gorgeous book is filled with wordless spreads i come frame and hang on my wall.

  18. my son loves all of david wiesner’s books. the wordless spread in tuesday with the frogs floating on lilypads has to be at the top of my list. we also picked up aaron becker’s quest book recently and that gorgeous book is filled with wordless spreads i could frame and hang on my wall.

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