Christoph Niemann has published Words, a self-penned “visual dictionary” of the most common words in the English language as a teaching aid for young children. The illustrator has brought to life 300 words by pairing words with scenes, in a series of beautifully simple images full of character and emotion.
Unlike many similar learning books for youngsters, it’s not so literal as “A is for Apple” — although an apple does feature — with many words requiring the reader to decipher the illustration and work out its meaning. A picture of toenails being painted is captioned with the word “each”, for example, and a fish about to be eaten by a bigger fish depicts the word “next”. Some linked terms are placed opposite each other across spreads, like “how” and “learn”, with imagery that connects and creates a narrative.
“For me drawing and writing are very closely related,” says Niemann. “Both a word and a picture have the power to express extremely complex thoughts and emotions.” The difference, he says, is that most people learn images though playful discovery, and words through conscious effort. “My aim for this book was to make the discovery of words equally fun and inspiring.”
Words is out in October published by Greenwillow Books.