Choosing Words Playfully with Julie Paschkis

h1 February 2nd, 2022 by jules

Before fully giving in to 2022 (if I must), I want to take one more peek back to last year. Here’s a mesmerizing book released last fall by Enchanted Lion — The Wordy Book by Julie Paschkis.

This exquisitely designed book includes new paintings as well as a collection of paintings that Paschkis, one of my favorite illustrators, has created over the years. A few of the paintings were previously posters for the King County Library system in Washington state, and some were paintings shown in galleries. Others were created specifically for this book. She pairs these paintings with thought-provoking questions, some more mysterious (“When does the end turn into a beginning?”) than others (“Could you please repeat that?”). Delightfully, each painting bursts with words: They beg the reader to slow down and linger. They remark upon the artwork, and the artwork extends their meaning. They nudge, interrogate, and provoke. Pay close attention to what many of these words are doing. In the final spread, Paschkis asking readers when the end becomes a beginning, word pairs are closely related in the way the question suggests: “Poem / Ember.” “Swoop / Open.” “Swivel / Velvet.” (You can take in this spread below.)

You can read more about the book in this blog post Julie wrote last year. A portion of her very inviting author’s note from the book is reproduced there.

I asked Julie how the book came to be. She wrote in an email:

I approached Enchanted Lion. I find their books enchanting and compelling. I thought this project would be a good fit. Working with Claudia Zoe Bedrick and the Enchanted Lion team has been the best. Claudia is brilliant, and she has a clear idea of what a book can be. Every conversation I had with her about The Wordy Book made it better. She understood what I wanted to do and made suggestions that deepened my approach to the art. And then the book was made using good paper and inks; it is lovely to hold. I am happily at work on another book that will be published by Enchanted Lion.

Below are some spreads so that you can see for yourself some of the vibrant palette and expert compositions. This one is a beauty. It possesses a playfulness and vitality that is all it own. It’s one for sharing — and revisiting often.


“How deep do you see in the deep blue sea?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Is the word in the world or is the world in the word?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Does brown have a sound? Can you hear green grow?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Can the inside be bigger than the outside?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Can I hold a castle in my hand?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“When does the end turn into a beginning?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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THE WORDY BOOK. Text and illustrations copyright © 2021 by Julie Paschkis. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Enchanted Lion Books, New York.

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