Lost for Words
Written and Illustrated by Natalie Russell
When Tapir opens up his brand new notebook, the blank pages stare back at him. He can’t think of a thing to write. His friends, however, don’t have that problem; words flow out of them like water: Giraffe writes poems, Hippo writes about his adventures, and Flamingo composes songs. Tapir feels very jealous.
Hoping to draft off their creativity, Tapir imitates them: he chews on leaves like Giraffe, he wallows in mud like Hippo, and he hums like Flamingo. But the words still don’t come. Frustrated, he finds a quiet place on top of a hill. Looking down at the beautiful scenery, he’s inspired to draw what he sees: a tall tree for Giraffe, a river for Hippo, and a sun for Flamingo. Before long, he has filled his entire notebook with colorful drawings. His friends love his creations so much they are moved to tears. Tapir learns that images can be just as powerful as words.
With bookshelves crowded with cat and pig main characters, it’s refreshing to see a less familiar creature like Tapir take center stage. In this tale of individuality and finding one’s creative spark, first graders will connect with the story’s message; they, too, must feel frustrated sometimes as they learn how to write. Warm colors and soft lines give Russell’s childlike illustrations a soothing feel. Recommended as a bedtime story or a classroom read aloud.