The Only Child, by Guojing, is a wordless picture book that is illustrated in gray scale. The book is wordless, letting the pictures do the storytelling by themselves. The story is incredibly evocative and will easily summon up emotions of fear, loneliness, and joy in the reader as the child in the story experiences them herself.
There is a brief note from the author that explains her inspiration, which ties back to her own experience as a child growing up in China under the one-child policy. She explained how, due to having working parents and grandparents who couldn’t always be counted on to watch the children, an entire generation of Chinese children grew up with an aching sense of loneliness – a universal emotion that is hauntingly captured in The Only Child. Luckily loneliness isn’t the only emotion experienced while reading the book, as the young girl encounters fantastical elements that generate joy and wonder, such as a flight of steps leading to the clouds, a friendly deer, and a flying whale. However, these moments of joy emphasize the loneliness and sense of abandonment that the girl does experience.
This is a gorgeous book that bridges the gap between children’s picture books and graphic novels as its illustrations are appealing for all ages, and its wordless narrative is poignant and meaningful for adults as well as children. This book would make a wonderful gift, and one that could easily become a permanent fixture on the family bookshelf.
[signoff predefined=”Social Media Reminder” icon=”facebook”][/signoff]