Selections for the 2023 Silent Books Collection

There are few more enjoyable ways to spend time than reading children’s books, especially wordless, or “silent,” books. In the best of the best silent books, stories are carefully and seamlessly woven together, characters and settings instantly engage the reader, each scene is designed to flow easily into the next, and every emotion and action is expertly captured. Simple or detailed, each picture is well worth its 1,000 words.

So, it was a treat to review, along with fellow IBBY Canada Silent Books selection committee members Mariella Bertelli and Nicholas Aumais, eligible titles published in Canada for the 2023 Silent Books Collection. After thoughtful and lively discussion, the committee championed two standout titles for inclusion:

  • Blanket by Ruth Ohi (Groundwood Books, 2022), an endearing and gentle story for the very young about the many ways friendship, and a blanket too, lends comfort in uncertain times.
  • Whirl, authored by Deborah Kerbel and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (Owlkids Books, 2022), which captures the life cycle of a maple key as it loop-the-loops its way through a vibrant and diverse community of nature-lovers of all ages before putting down roots.

Please join my fellow committee members and me in congratulating these authors and illustrators—a big huzzah! to Ruth, Deborah and Josée!—and their publishers!

The 2023 Silent Books Collection, comprised of selections submitted by national IBBY sections around the world and reviewed by an international panel of judges, will be announced along with an Honour List on March 6, 2023 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. More information on the project’s beginnings and past collection editions can be found here .

There are three sets of the complete Silent Books Collection, which (at the time of this writing) highlights 383 titles from 23 countries: one is housed at the prestigious Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, Italy, as part of their Art Shelf collection; another is a world-touring collection; and a third is part of the permanent book collection in the children’s library on the island of Lampedusa, which opened its doors in 2017. After attending IBBY Camp in Lampedusa in 2022, Mariella Bertelli happily reported that the “Canada” shelf in the children’s library, which includes past Honour Books Objet perdu by Cécile Gariépy (Éditions de la Pastèque, 2019) and Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books, 2015), has a strong presence. This speaks—and like the best of silent books, speaks volumes!—not only to the quality of Canadian children’s books from which to choose for inclusion, but also to the commitment and generous support of Canadian publishers, who donate and send copies of their selected books for the three complete collection sets.

The committee extends their appreciation to all the publishers who provided PDFs of their eligible titles for consideration, with special thanks to Groundwood Books and Owlkids Books for their donations of their selected books this year for the collection.

Contributed by Yvette Ghione

2023 IBBY Canada Silent Books selection committee member

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