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The Whisper

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,530 ratings  ·  334 reviews
When a little girl received a curious book filled only with pictures, a whisper urges her to create the words she cannot see. As the pages turn, her imagination takes flight and she discovers that the greatest storyteller of all might come from within.

A celebration of reading and the power of the imagination, Pamela Zagarenski's debut as an author reminds us that we each
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Dawn Moews I bought it for my grandsons; one is 3 going on 4 and one is an infant. I think I will happily share it with both.

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Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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along with This Is Sadie, this is another gorgeously-illustrated picture book about the power of storytelling and the imagination that has several pictures of foxen.

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here, a little girl borrows a magical book of stories from her teacher, but on her way home all the words escape, leaving only the pictures behind.

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Where were the words? Where were the stories?

It's just not a book of stories, without any words, she thought.

but then she hears a whisper on the wind:

"Dear little girl, don't be disappo
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An incandescent picture book, and my pick for the Caldecott.

I really don't know what else to say about it. It's gorgeous. It's charming. I was instantly in love with it.

My sister gave it to me along with a lip gloss shaped like a little fox, which made it EVEN BETTER.

For the reader, the dreamer, the artist in all of us.
This is beyond beautiful. It's imaginative and colorful. A favorite of mine.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enchanting. Entrancing. Eye captivating. I have grown to love the artwork done by Pamela Zagarenski. This book was both written and illustrated by Zagarenski. The idea of the story is that a little girl borrows a magical book. On her way home, to read the book, somehow, all the words spill from the pages. When she opens the book, it is a wordless picture book. She is sad at first, but then she hears a whisper that tells her to not be disappointed. The whisper goes on and tells the little girl th ...more
David Schaafsma
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this because of Karen's exuberant review. The art IS indeed gorgeous from this two-time-winner of Caldecott Honors. It's a picture book with words and illustrations ABOUT illustration, a kind of teaching book for how to read silent or wordless books that just have illustrations. But this isn't wordless, it's not just silent. And it's pretty delightful, on the whole, but as I see it it's more a how-to book about the imagination, and maybe more for adults than kids, because it teaches in an ...more
Pamela Zagarenski's detailed mixed media illustrations are magical, as always:

The story, however, is not particularly interesting and kind of overwritten: everything is spelled out and there is way too much redundancy between the words and the illustrations (and too many words in general).
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sweet-petites
The paintings in the book were magical and multi-layered. After a brief storyline that the book had no words, only pictures, each page was captioned with a series of brief introductions that went nowhere to indicate that the child was making up the stories herself. If this was an indication that the reader should do the same, why ruin the effect with a weak intro to every painting.
Pictures - 5 stars
Story - 2 stars
Liza Nahas
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love books that celebrate imagination & being imaginative and this gorgeously illustrated book does just that. Children will be absorbed by the fairy tale-like art work, so many dainty & interesting details. I don't use the phrase "must-have" often, but this is a "must-have" for every child's collection. (Well, and my own collection too!)
Michael Fitzgerald
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I very much liked the illustrations, but the story was both unsatisfying and heavy-handed.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book to me is about the power of imagination. What do you do when you find yourself in front of a beautiful painting or picture? You can't help but wonder about the story behind it. One little girl decided to do more than that and actually use her words to tell the story behind each picture in this book.
Although I love a lot of things about the book (including the gorgeous illustrations) I can't shake the feeling that something is missing. But maybe I am the one missing the point instead? I
Edward Sullivan
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A lovely fable about the magic of storytelling and the power of imagination with fanciful, resplendent illustrations.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Beautiful illustrations and I love how the story talks about storytelling and wordless books.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is a beautifully charming book full of wonderfully imaginative illustrations. There is an overarching story (in a bookended kind of way) about a little girl who borrows a book, loses the words, and then hears a whisper encouraging her to make up her own story. The middle of the book has illustrations that are intended more as story starters with an opening line or two. You can either just kind of read the book through or choose an illustration and make up a story.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
The Whisper, written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, has been highly praised by many readers as a wonderful book that encourages imagination, full of amazing illustrations. While I agree that the illustrations are very artistic and highly imaginative, I found the story - as well as the story within the story - to be very convoluted and unenjoyable.

The story is about "a little girl who loved stories" with words and pictures that "took her to new and secret places that existed in a world al
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous illustrations and a story the champions the imagination, creativity and leaves the reader exhilarated. A little girl borrows a story book from her teacher. On the walk home all the words fall out and when she opens the book all she finds are the illustrations. She hears a whisper: "make up your own stories based on the pictures" it says - so she does. I adored this book and think Pamela Zagarenski is a genius. Bravo.
Maren Prestegaard
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was so totally for me. I'm so totally a dunce when it comes to wordless books and the protagonist of this book explores that concept. Just gorgeous in the illustrations, the font and the little touches throughout. The cadence and the plot are a bit tricky for a read BUT could imagine this one as a precursor to David Macaulay's lovely books.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! I received it from my mother-in-law as a baby shower gift and finally had some time to read it in more detail today. The Whisper is an excellent book to spark creativity in young readers as several of the pages are just the beginning of stories that children can finish. SO perfect for me and the little reader/writer I'm raising!
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, for-kids
At first I didn't love this because I thought the story was a little obtuse. But I ended up liking it after my son and I started using the pictures and story prompts to start imagining our own stories. It really connected the practice of entering into the story with the book's message along those lines.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story to teach kids about storytelling

I loved the illustrations and the flow of the book. I borrowed it from my library and would love to own it.
The story is about a little girl who asks her teacher if she could borrow her book. Once she gets home, she learns the book is more of a picture book with no words. The little girl used her imagination to come up with what the pictures mean. The pages don't finish so you can use your imagination to do it. I think the book is clever and promotes a
Mekiah Johnson
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this book beautiful and good, imaginative, except for the parts that obviously mentioned Satan with the name Pan. The guy who has horns. That didn't please me, or some of the other underlying themes in the book hidden in between the lines. Or all the checkers (masonic, splitting of the mind).
Otherwise, I enjoyed it as a story. These reasons are why I docked two stars.
I don't believe satanic stuff should be hidden throughout kids' books.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Magical illustrations and an important message about the power of imagination.
Sarah Hosseini
دلم می خواد هر چه زودتر طفلی رو پیدا کنم و با هم بخونیمش.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The whole time I was reading this book, I was thinking to myself: "Gee, doesn't this look a lot like Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors? Well, there's a good reason for that--Zagarenski illustrated it---as she did the adorable and quite beautiful Sleep Like a Tiger. Her illustrations are warm and colorful and vibrant and evoke a comforting nostalgia for the days of childhood, during which anything was still possible if only it could be imagined. The Whisper, her solo effort, is essentiall ...more
Susan  Dunn
From A Kid's Book A Day blog:
Summary: A little girl in a red hood gets to borrow a book her teacher promises is full of wonderful stories. As she races home with the book, the words leak out the bottom and drift away, until a clever fox catches them in his net. Arriving at home, the girl is disappointed that the book has only pictures, no stories. She’s about to abandon it when she hears a whispered voice telling her to use her imagination. Back she goes to the first illustration, trying to imag
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I feel like I'm out of step with other readers. Yes, I like this art, expecially in the details. The cover is just plain fun -- whimsical and real with symbolism. And I like the illustrations that lead the reader to the magical book. But then ... the large pictures are somewhat surreal and too vague for me (e.g., Tigers Prayer). I like the idea for the story, but I wouldn't be in a hurry to read the author's interpretation of her paintings. If I use it as a read-aloud, I'd read the tex ...more
This is a story within a story, and of course it’s my “imagination” driving my thinking. A young girl sees a book ‘way up high’ in her classroom, and asks her teacher about it. The teachers says it’s a marvelous story book, filled with stories, and allows the girl to borrow it for the evening. That’s when the fun begins, for as she walks home, the words float out of the book, but look, a clever fox catches the words in a net. What happens in the rest of the story indeed is magical. The girl see ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zagarenski has given us another unbelievably beautiful and dreamlike world that shimmers before our eyes. And the book's narrative about a wordless book is equally imaginative and engaging. I was first introduced to Zagarenski in a book that was a gift, for which I am so thankful, and whose successors have never disappointed. (I was fortunate enough to see an original illustration from Sleep Like a Tiger in a traveling exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. The printing of that into the book c ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is not everyday that a book this lovely appears in the stack of new picture books at the library. Not only are the illustrations breathtaking, the story/ies inside leave room for the greatest of imaginations. This book can be used in a variety of ways, encouraging children to imagine their own stories across each brilliantly colorful spread. This book could be used in the classroom for both oral storytelling and writing prompts for fairy tale or folktale stories. But I imagine it being a wond ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sophie
Shelves: picture-books
What a beautiful book! I can hardly wait to read it to my 5-year-old granddaughter so she can unleash her imagination. For that is what this book encourages. The illustrations are colorful, enchanting, and imaginative and the story is all about the power of imagination. When a little girl borrows a book from her teacher, all the words fall out. Encouraged by a whispering fox, the little girl makes up stories for the beautiful pictures in the book. But the stories she makes up are not complete, l ...more
A bit reminiscent of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in that a character responds to pictures as story-starters. The pictures are beautiful and a bit mysterious, and there is a lot here to reward the careful reader (and listener): recurring elements, tiny details, a clever fox. It is a bit difficult to share with a large group, since some of the most interesting details are quite small.

This would be a fantastic start to some creative writing.
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Caldecott Honor Medalist Pamela Zagarenski is a brilliant painter of many worlds. As well as illustrating picture books, she creates sculptures and large paintings, which can be viewed at an art gallery in Mystic, Connecticut. She divides her time between Stonington, Connecticut, and her house on Prince Edward Island.
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“There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imagining--- imagining just is.” 1 likes
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