I do love wordless picture books, but I’ve avoided them a bit the past few years since it seems to be a micro-trend within the picture book world, and wordlessness just doesn’t work for many narratives. Wordlessness has to be a choice the illustrator makes because it is the best choice, which is exactly what Renato Moriconi does in The Little Barbarian.
A sword and shield-bearing barbarian is unfased through attacks of birds, arrows, monsters and more, until…nothing. The barbarian looks up at the emptiness, and for the first time, there is emotion on his face: surprise, then sadness. Reading through initially, I thought this was the end, and it would be a good ending. But wonder of all wonders, the next two double page spreads change the narrative entirely. It’s delightful, and would be fun to compare this book’s ending to the ending in Julie Roach’s The Bear Ate Your Sandwich.