Best Wordless Books Authors: Mercer Mayer

by Jimmie

A selection of Mercer Mayer's wordless picture books and suggestions for reading them to and with your children.

In my series on wordless books, it is only fitting that I devote an article to Mercer Mayer. His publication of the 1967 A Boy, a Frog, and a Dog made Mayer the father of the wordless picture book genre.

Mercer Mayer was born in 1943 in Arkansas. While attending college, he decided to become a children's book illustrator.

His first published book was a wordless book titled A Boy, A Frog, and a Dog. In 1978 Mayer started publishing the Little Critter books, a series of inexpensive Golden Books.

In total, Mercer Mayer has published over 300 books.
Although Mercer Mayer is best known for his Little Critter series, I think that Mayer's wordless picture books are far superior. I want to introduce you to them here.

The Boy and a Frog Series

The First Half
A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog (Boy, Dog, F...
$7.99  $3.99
Frog, Where Are You? (Boy, Dog, Frog)
$6.99  $29.0
A Boy, a Dog, a Frog, and a Friend (B...
$7.99  $4.59

The Boy and A Frog Series

A Childhood Classic

This series of six books is simple enough for even preschoolers to appreciate. But I admit, I still smile when I read these tiny books.

The main characters are a boy, his frog, and his dog. (A second frog and plenty of jealousy enter the mix in One Frog Too Many.) The boy is constantly playing outdoors, getting muddy, and exploring the woods. In Frog Goes to Dinner, the frog causes a rowdy ruckus at a fancy restaurant.

Mercer Mayer injects plenty of humor into each book. And there is plenty of sentiment too. The boy truly loves his frog. 

The books are arranged in the order they are designed to be read, but you can enjoy any book alone and in any sequence.

A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog is Mayer's first book. It was published in 1967 and is often credited as being one of the first among the wordless picture book genre.

The Boy and a Frog Series

The Last Three Books
Frog on His Own (Boy, Dog, Frog)
$7.99  $5.99
Frog Goes to Dinner (Boy, Dog, Frog)
$6.99  $5.99
One Frog Too Many (Boy, Dog, Frog)
$7.99  $1.68

How Can You Use a Wordless Book?

Despite being simple books, the wordless picture books featured here are great for 

  • bedtime reading
  • independent "reading" for pre-readers
  • writing prompts for older elementary children
  • speaking prompts for students learning English as a second language or working on language delays
  • practice writing dialogue
  • practice with grammatical features (For example, "find all the verbs on this page.")
  • simple introduction to the elements of fiction -- setting, plot, theme, character, point of view
Octopus Soup
Marshall Cavendish Corp/Ccb
$16.99  $1.3
The Great Cat Chase (Mercer Mayer Pic...
School Specialty Publishing
$5.73  $1.75

More of Mercer Mayer's Wordless Books

The two books featured above both revolve around a classic chase theme

In Octopus Soup, an octopus is caught from the sea and taken to the surface where he must evade the people of the city, including a walrus chef who wants to cook him!

In The Great Cat Chase, two children seek to catch a sneaky cat. Their chase creates plenty of humor and surprises.

Mercer Mayer Photo
Mercer Mayer Photo

More Mercer Mayer Links

More About Wordless Books

Barbara Lehman's sweet illustrations tell the stories in these wordless books.
The fantastic wordless books by David Wiesner are a wonderful addition to your bedtime reading routine.
They may have no printed words, but wordless picture books are great tools for language development and creativity in young children. (They are also fun for adults who read them!)
The illustrations take center stage in these creative picture books that provide plenty of opportunity for language development and creative role play.
Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
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girlgames on 09/02/2011

Great idea to share this collection. Those books are a great way to help kids to develop their imagination.

sidther on 08/06/2011

I use wordless books quite often as speech prompts for my son- I had not come across these ones before though! I will have to try The boy and the Frog series and I know my son will just adore the great cat chase!

ohcaroline on 08/02/2011

What a great way to introduce children to reading. I would have been thrilled to have had these books as a child.

pkmcr on 08/02/2011

Interesting to discover an author I was not aware of and very nicely presented too

PeggyHazelwood on 08/02/2011

Oh, don't you just love these wordless books?! Nice summary.

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