Presentation on theme: "Visual Elements and Evaluation Criteria for Picture Books."— Presentation transcript:
Visual Elements and Evaluation Criteria for Picture Books
Line: Mirror, Mirror While illustrators frequently use lines to show movement, Josée Masse uses lines to delineate the reverso poetry and the illustrations themselves in this clever book. The author, Marilyn Singer, has written poems depicting both sides of beloved fairy tales, and Masse’s artwork shows both sides as well, literally drawing a line down the center of each illustration, showing light and dark sides as well as the opposite side of the story.
Shape: My Teacher is a Monster Geometric shapes abound in Peter Brown’s book, My Teacher is a Monster, and he uses these shapes not only to create his characters, but to also depict motion in this story. For example, when Robert’s teacher yells for Robert to “SETTLE DOWN!” his chair tilts back on its long, rectangular legs. Also, when the “monster” teacher moves, her triangular shoes are arranged into patterns that depict movement without doing more than changing the direction of the narrow tip of the triangle’s point.
Color: Olivia Although the colors in this book are mainly black, white and red, Olivia is a terrific example of the use of color in illustration. The author and illustrator, Ian Falconer, uses the color red as a contrast to make his main character’s actions stand out. Olivia’s accessories and activities are all accented in red, except when she goes to the museum to look at her favorite Degas and her least favorite Jackson Pollock painting. The strong color helps to paint the picture of our porcine friend as being a little character full of fire, and it provides a strong contrast to her much quieter family members.
Texture: The Three Pigs The Three Pigs provides a fantastic example of texture. The illustrations start out in a rather typical children’s book fashion—they are good, but flat. As soon as the pigs begin to escape the pages of the story they belong to, the illustrations come alive. The drawings of the pigs and other creatures that gather outside the stories with them have fantastic, realistic detail, even down to hair on the pigs and scales on their dragon friend. It really does give the sensation that a reader could reach out and pet these animals instead of a printed page. This attention to detail truly carries the story, and it is entertaining to see the animals slipping the pages of their own books and accompanying artistic styles as they join each other for a well-deserved meal of alphabet soup.
Composition: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach The illustrator of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach marries all the visual elements exquisitely throughout this book. Lines are used to soften background images and keep those in the foreground crisp and vivid. Shapes convey motion as drops of coffee fall from various suitors’ shoes, and the colors of this book are rich and inviting throughout. Even the texture of the characters is played up: Martina is smooth and glossy-looking in her soft shades of green; the rooster’s feathers are obviously ruffled, showing his deep agitation after being doused in coffee; the pig’s somewhat rumpled appearance fits his character perfectly, and the lizard’s scales manage to convey the raspy feel of a reptile’s skin. These all create contrast to the softness with which Perez, the sweet mouse suitor, is drawn. While at times each element is pointed up, none seems to dominate or overwhelm the others—there is a beautiful symmetry and balance to the book.
Characters: Where the Wild Things Are Most children will be able to empathize with Max’s plight in this classic children’s tale. Not only is he believable as a mischievous wild thing, but the illustrations tell even more of the story and the deeds that lead to Max being confined to his room. The characterization continues to build as the readers see Max’s imagination sprout a forest in his room and fantastic creatures he can rule over. Still, even with his imaginary friends surrounding him, children will understand his loneliness and desire to return home.
Plot: My Teacher is a Monster The main conflict of My Teacher is a Monster should be absolutely believable for most youngsters. They all know teachers who get upset and don’t appreciate a well-made paper airplane flying across the classroom. Most of them will also understand Robert’s confusion when he meets his teacher in a different setting and comes to see her as less and less of a monster and more of a regular human being. What the sparse dialogue doesn’t portray in this story, the illustrations certainly cover. The transformation of Ms. Kirby from foe to friend is subtle, but not so elusive that children won’t be able to follow, and they may even ask for a reread so they can pinpoint the beginnings of it for themselves.
Setting: This is Not My Hat While setting often incorporates time as well as place, the setting of This is Not My Hat, is definitely about place, specifically what appears to be an ocean floor. There are relatively few words to this children’s book, but the illustrations tell the truth the unreliable narrator cannot. When the setting shifts to the plants the little fish plans to hide in, no more words are necessary to complete the story—the setting and clever illustrations tell it for us.
Theme: The Paper Bag Princess When it comes to this book, The Paper Bag Princess, the obvious theme is “Don’t judge a book [princess] by its [her] cover,” and this easily found theme suffices for the younger crowd, but the book also lends itself to much deeper thinking and intricate themes that will intrigue more mature readers. Not only is the princess judged by her prince for how she looks, but she is also judged by the dragon who chooses to not take her seriously. No one appears to expect this girl to be such a clever, resourceful young woman, and their downfall occurs because of that lack of expectation. The delightful twists lend themselves nicely to much more than a surface reading, and definitely carry us to a satisfying ending.
Style: It’s a Book It’s a Book is a delightful example of style in children’s literature. From the simple, understated geometric style of illustration, to the clipped, staccato delivery of its dialogue, and even the repetition of the title line, “It’s a book,” there is nothing to not enjoy within these pages, all the way through to the wordplay on the name Jackass at the end. This book is unique, through and through.
Illustrations: The Three Pigs While most artists stick to one artistic style and master it, author and illustrator David Wiesner takes a multitude of styles and pulls them together to craft this creative rendition of a classic fairy tale. His illustrations and clever use of white space carry the story to the point where on most pages the dialogue is a nicety, not a necessity. The seamless way the drawings shift as creatures slip out of one story and into another, or even the space between, is not only entertaining, but shows Wiesner’s true talent for storytelling.
Cultural markers: The Legend of the Bluebonnet The Legend of the Bluebonnet is the retelling of an old tale which explains the origin of the bluebonnet in Texas. While reading, it is hard to miss the stylistic narration and dialogue, but it is the illustrations that stand out the most. The author and illustrator, Tomie dePaula, obviously worked hard to be as respectful as possible of the American Indians depicted in this tale. His illustrations show the beautiful skin tone and lustrous blue-black hair of a young Comanche girl. Her style of clothing shows intricate beading and fringe, and even the warrior doll she holds so dear is reflective of her tribe, down to his beaded leggings and the blue feathers in his hair. The attention to detail comes together to create a deeply respectful rendering of a tale from a bygone day, and one that doesn’t feel derogatory or stereotypical in its nature.
All pictures for this project were found on www.amazon.com. Citations
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