Let’s talk picture books: WHAT ARE WORDS, REALLY?

What are words, really? by Alexi Lubomirski and Carlos Aponte explores the power of words and how the right words can change the world.

What are the words? Turns out they’re not just random letters arranged in different ways, they have power! Words can be funny, hurtful, magical, and everything in between, but more than anything, words have the power to change the world around us. Using one word over another can affect change in drastically different ways and lead to opposite results, so it’s important to choose your words carefully, whether you’re thinking them or saying them out loud.

Aponte makes glorious use of primary colors in this book, with a limited color palette of red, yellow, blue, black, and white. And more than that, Aponte also sticks to the same shade of each color, with no variation in the vibrancy of any individual shade (although there is the occasional overlap of the same color to create a beautiful, textured look). This extremely limited set of options allows Aponte to try harder and be very creative with how he treats images of himself. The handwritten look of the text, which is limited to the same palette, also allows the team to emphasize different words (hey, that’s the point of the book!) and bring the text to life in fun and creative ways.

What are words, really? published earlier this season by Candlewick Press. You can also read an interview I did a couple of years ago with the illustrator Carlos here!

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