Welcome to a wordless picture book set in Mamoko, a bustling little town populated with a marvellous array of animal characters, each of which has a story to tell.
Creative duo Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński are internationally renowned for their children’s books, which include Maps, House and Impossible Inventions: Ideas that Shouldn’t Work. I chose to review the (largely) wordless title Welcome to Mamoko because it looked like a lot of fun, especially for younger readers.
And it really is fun! Mamoko is an imaginary town populated with a marvellous array of animal characters. Just check out the book cover above and you’ll see what I mean. But don’t worry about losing yourself in the crowd; in the opening spread, readers are introduced to a select number of animals and provided with a brief prompt, along the lines of:
‘Edwin Drench has an emergency! Can he save the day?’ or ‘Magical Miss Chubb is on the move. What’s hidden in her mystery box?’
From this point on, the illustrations take over with a series of fabulous double spreads, each featuring the characters from the introduction. My daughters (aged 4 and 6) and I like to choose one character each; then we locate them in every scene – or try to! – and talk about what they are doing, where they are going, who they are with, etc. It’s a great way to encourage readers to focus on each illustration and then create a little story around what they see. All sorts of objects appear throughout the book as well: an aeroplane, a balloon, a random trail of red apples (more story potential!). Each amazingly detailed, beautifully illustrated spread buzzes with energy and activity as the inhabitants of Mamoko to and fro, cycle, shop, play and generally go about their everyday business.
The spreads feature various areas of the town viewed externally: residential district, local commerce, green space, industrial landscape . . . But readers are also treated to glimpses of life behind closed doors: some apartment blocks and retail outlets are shown in cross-section, revealing all sorts of surprises such as snoozing bunnies in bunk-beds, a cow having an eye test, and various animals lifting weights.
I love the way one colour dominates each double spread – yellow, green, purple, orange, blue. The changing palette adds real variety to the overall look of the book and is a neat way to demarcate each scene. I also love the large, robust board-book format. This is the sort of title that will last, even with heavy hands-on usage. And that’s good, because readers will want to dip into this book again and again!
Welcome to Mamoko – welcome to the wonder of wordless picture books! Beautifully illustrated down to the tiniest detail and full of potential stories for readers to tell, this title is sure to spark curiosity and creativity.
Welcome to Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński, translator unknown (Big Picture Press, 2013)
Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński are internationally renowned illustrators whose picture books have been translated into multiple languages. They have received numerous accolades for their work, including a Bologna Ragazzi award in 2010 and a Prix Sorcières in 2013. They run Hipopotam Studio in Poland, where they create books, fonts, applications and websites.
I have not found any information about the translator of this picture book.