Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Only Child” as Want to Read:
The Only Child
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Only Child

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,290 ratings  ·  555 reviews
A New York Times  Best Illustrated Book

Hailed by Entertainment Weekly and the Wall Street Journal as a best book of the year, this gorgeous and imaginative story—part picture book, part graphic novel—is utterly transporting and original. USA Today  declared it “a compelling and melancholy debut from an important new talent" as well as "an expansive and ageless book full of
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Schwartz & Wade (first published September 1st 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Only Child, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Zoe's Human It's published with ages 5 through 9 in mind. We have it in the juvenile section in my library.…moreIt's published with ages 5 through 9 in mind. We have it in the juvenile section in my library.(less)
Kimberlee We have it cataloged as Juvenile at our library, but the story is easy to follow, so it would be accessible to a wide age range.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,290 ratings  ·  555 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Only Child
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
 photo IMG_7727_zps6mu6obz8.jpg

when i first saw this cover online, months before the book was released, i thought to myself, "i will make you mine."

and then i did.

superficially, the artwork reminded me of a cutesier Shaun Tan or a less-gross Renée French. but i know nothing about art, and when i mentioned this observation to art-snob sean of the house, he scoffed and pointed to a couple of illustrations and said "shaun tan would never do that or that," so i guess i'm wrong. sean of the house does not care for the art in
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
To see this and other wordless picture book reviews, please visit

The Only Child is a wordless children's graphic novel that's magical in every way.

The beautiful and detailed illustrations tell a stunning story. One of the best graphic novels for children we've read!

Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kids; Parents
Guojing's wordless graphic novel for children is about a little girl in China who leaves home "to visit grandma" but ends up on a magical adventure when she gets lost and meets a stag in the forest.

Wonderful images of the stag, the cloud bear, and the whale who swims through the clouds instead of the ocean are lovingly drawn by Guojing.

She writes in the introduction:

Laura Harrison
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Mind blowing. One of the most unique children's picture books I have ever read/owned. There is so much depth of feeling and emotion in the illustrations. Extraordinarily beautiful and poignant. You can almost feel the hair on the animals. A must have for collectors of the best of the best in children's literature. Check out this one my fellow children's book lovers. It is remarkable. Classic children's book material. ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lovely wordless picture book fantasy about a little girl who gets lost on her way to Grandma's house and gets befriended by a stag who introduces her to a magical natural world. Lovely pencil drawings. Compared by a lot of people to Shaun Tan's work, maybe because it is also wordless, but this one is sweeter, sadder, a bit more cartoony and sentimental. Soft and somewhat bleak images abound, which Guojing says are meant to reflect her lonely childhood in China under their enforced one-child-on ...more
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of The Arrival

A snowy new year's day is the perfect time for this story of being lost and found. The author/illustrator, Guojing, was born in China while the one-child policy was in effect. Her memories of loneliness were a springboard for this story about what happens when a little girl decides to set out in search of friendship.

It's told entirely through wordless images, existing as something between a graphic novel and a picture book. The monochromatic illustrations are full of softly rounded lines, gentl
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Hilary by: Requested library buys
This beautifully illustrated picture book with no text shows a little girl going to bed in China. She is lonely and bored and decides to run away to see Grandma. Leaving her flat she goes into the night and meets a stag and here the magical journey begins. The illustrations are wonderful and must have taken so long. I didn't like the faces on the people very much, cartoon style with dots for eyes and mouth whilst the rest of the illustrations are realistic and the stag has realistic eyes and fea ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Both the lovely illustrations and telling a story without words made me think of Brian Selznick. The foreword by author Guojing and her loneliness as a politically-mandated single child in China sets the stage for a little girl's adventure on her own, getting lost in the woods, where she is befriended by a stag and some other imagined friends. Just terrific. ...more
Beautiful and subtle, the pencil drawings follow the day in the life of a lonely only child who spends the day playing and attempting to while away the hours till her parents return from work. There are no words, just beautiful images of a child's imagination at work when she finds herself alone and lost outside her apartment. ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This one I need to own.

This is, simply put, beautiful.

Wordless picture books don't get nearly enough appreciation as far as I'm concerned. The depth that your work has to have to convey not just emotion but story cannot be understated. You don't have sound, you don't have words, you've got nothing but your skill as an artist to pull in your reader and hold them and take them on a journey.

This perfect example of that kind of talent did, fortunately, get a whole lot of attention, even making it o
La Coccinelle
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book may be over 100 pages long, but it's easy to get through in just a few minutes. In spite of that, it has a very well-defined story, all told in hazy black-and-white images.

It reminds me more of a graphic novel than a picture book, due to the panels. There's no text at all (except for a couple of words on objects).

The story is about a little girl who's left home alone. She gets bored and decides to go see her grandmother. She leaves a note for her parents, takes her umbrella, and gets o
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh wow. The illustrations are just gorgeous. There's such depth here, worthy of more than a quick read but real study. As for plot? By the end I wasn't sure if this was a dream or a real adventure, which was ok. Ambiguity is good. And maybe, if I read and reread it, I'll decide. I rarely predict the Caldecott's but this one? It'd be very surprising if it doesn't get at least a mention.

ARC provided by publisher.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Some hybrid of wordless picture book and wordless graphic novel. Beautifully illustrated - a must read.
Melissa Chung
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars! I loved the illustrations. They are charcoal or pencil. This is a full picture book with no words. These are my kids favorite kind of stories for me to read because I make up the story as I go. There are no spoilers in this review because every story is different. Here's mine :D

Once upon a time, a small girl named Sally, wakes from a pleasant sleep. She yawns and gets out of bed. She sees her mother on the way to the bathroom. "Mom, I'm hungry," the girl says. The mother really has to
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A wordless journey in enhanced pencil drawings. Highly recommended as a picture book for older readers. The emotional journey balances the fantastical one in a seamless visual narrative.

Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful black and white, wordless graphic novel.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone Who Appreciates Beautifully-Illustrated Picture-Books and/or Stories About Enchanted Journeys
Left on her own one day when her mother and father must go to work, the titular 'only child' in this gorgeous wordless picture-book sets out to visit her grandmother, only to fall asleep on the bus-ride there. Waking up far too late, the girl disembarks and soon finds herself lost in the woods. When a beautiful stag approaches, she finds a friend and a guide, one who takes her on a fantastic voyage to a far-removed land in the clouds. Here she meets another friend, and together the three pass an ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What does an only child long for?

PLAYMATES - both real and imaginary.

The artwork in this one reminds me of The Arrival, though the story is reminiscent of The Snowman.

It is a wonderful book - sweet but not cloying . . . simply adorable!
Michele Knott
The ability of an author/illustrator to bring so much emotion to light through images only is such a powerful thing. This is book you will not want to miss this December.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
😭😭😭 this book was so beautiful and emotional. It’s made me rethink having 1 kid. Usually I hate wordless picture books, but this one really touched me, Especially after reading the authors note.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Doc. by: this review
I've "read" this twice already this year and I'll probably read it again, which is something it has in common with Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival', a book that I pore over frequently. While I did think their art styles were similar before I'd read The Only Child, since then I've read Tan's The Bird King and I'm convinced no one can do what he does. Not even close. He's more fanciful, yet there's a lot of geometry and a sci-fi influence to his whimsy.

But this book is pretty amazing, too, and has rela
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals, graphicnovel, e, j
Wordless black and white graphic novel (some might put it in picture books) about a lonely kid who goes on an adventure.

Beautifully lush illustrations. But honestly, for me, those images pack more of a punch when I flip through the book now than they did when I was sequentially reading the story. Cute/Beautiful/Majestic animals of several types cameo.

I was a very happy only child, though, so there's a part of me which is kinda biased against the thesis of this from the getgo. The cultural conte
Rachel Ernst
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
If I had my way this book would win the Caldecott. It is so beautiful. A wordless picture book that needs no text for the reader to experience the life of this only child, and their remarkable journey. I feel like it is a story we can all relate to. Even being one of four there were moments were I felt alone. I definitely teared up at the end.
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully illustrated children's book about growing up isolated and lonely. The author grew up in China under the one child per family policy and she had a lonely childhood.

This book attempts to encapsulate her childhood. I think she does a wonderful job of mixing fantasy with reality and seeing the world through a child's eyes.

I loved it. And so did my daughters.
Kristina Jean Lareau
Incredible. A story about loneliness and imagination.

The final endpapers got me all choked up. Incredible detail rendered in pencil and edited digitally, this graphic novel is an emotional tale told only in pictures.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The little girl in this book is such a cutie I'm not sure that she could be any cuter. Unless of course she goes on an adventure where she gets to sit on clouds and play with baby animals. I mean it is stinking cute. ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Beautiful artwork and story telling. This story is completely wordless and told just through pictures. such and imaginative story.

I received a copy if this story through Edelweiss
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, children, fantasy
A wordless picture book can appeal to all ages. The black and white art is beautiful. A young child is lost on a snowy evening and is rescued by a magical stag. The art work tells the story.
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Read at the RHCB preview. The art is stunning--I can't wait to get my hands on a finished copy so I can spend more time with this one. ...more
Janet Weber
If you are a fan of Raymond Brigss's The Snowman, you'll enjoy this book with a much younger protagonist who embarks on an imaginary adventure illustrated in grayscale. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Barnabus Project
  • Moon! Earth's Best Friend
  • The Wanderer
  • Donut Feed the Squirrels
  • Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon
  • Livi & Nate
  • Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking: TOON Level 2
  • The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 4
  • The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 3
  • Binky the Space Cat
  • Odd Duck
  • Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas
  • Leave Me Alone!
  • CatStronauts: Race to Mars
  • Electricity (Building blocks of science)
  • Best Frints in the Whole Universe
  • Oona
  • Le Livre de la Jungle
See similar books…
Guojing (Jing Guo) is an illustrator and concept artist. Previously she worked in the game and animation industry. She is now a professional illustrator. Her wordless picture book, ‘The Only Child’, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2015, and a Publishers Weekly Book of 2015, is published by Schwartz and Wade (Random House, Dec, 2015). The story is based on her own experiences a ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
41 likes · 12 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »