A Sick Day For Amos McGee

Written by Philip C. Stead - Illustrated by Erin E. Stead


In A Sick Day for Amos McGee written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, we are taken along side Mr. McGee through his daily routine. As an employee of the City Zoo he has a very busy schedule; however, he always makes time to spend with his animal friends. From this third person perspective you see how Amos cares for each of his friends individually: the elephant, turtle, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl. One morning when Amos awakes he is too sick to go to work. Unexpectedly, his friends from the zoo return the everyday love and generosity he shows them by visiting Mr. McGee and showing him kindness and caring for him while he is ill. The story ends leaving children with a lesson to take the time to care and love each one of your friends for who they are, and the favor will be returned. The ultimate 'treat others the way you want to be treated' tale.
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Literary Elements

The plot is shown just through the illustrations alone. By the turn of each page you are presented with a new setting or scene. Meaning, even if there was no text, you could have a pretty good idea of what the story's theme is. The characters and what they represent are also shown through illustration. You can tell the penguin is a shy character, because he looks timid. You can see the owl is afraid of the dark by the light beside him. And you can see pride in the turtle as he crosses the finish line, just by the smirk on his face. However, all of these animals are always shown with Amos or together, representing the theme of forever love and friendship.
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Physical and Visual Features

The books overall physical appearance seems very similar to what you would normally expect. However, it is wider rather than taller. I believe this contributes to the comforting and warming sense the story has. It helps young children more easily carry it around, while not looking so "harsh" and tall, it is able to feel small and cozy. The visual features throughout the story are what carry of meaning of the story. In the beginning the use of color and line is used on the cover and in the home of Amos. The yellow represents happiness and warmth, while the vertical lines of yellow and white on his walls represent the stability in his friendships. Also, each image of a character is very detailed in itself, referring to the significant underlying message that everyone is individual and unique. Finally, throughout the story their is a repeated shape, a red balloon( typically seen with the shy penguin). The circle shape ballon represents a needed sense of protection and comfort that one needs. On the last page of the story once the penguin has the comfort and love of his friends, the balloon is seen floating off into the distance. Meaning that the need for comfort and love has been found.
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Artistic Style and Media

The artistic style used was I would say a fun mix of realistic and cartoon. In creating children's literature I believe this is a really important style because it helps children expand their imaginations while reading, since the images are not what they would normally see around it helps spark creativity. However, it is realistic characters which I think helps the overall meaning of friendship seem very real and true, rather than something of fiction.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
was illustrated by Erin E Stead, using a technique called wood block printing. According to the website, Macmillan Publishers, Mrs. Stead says she wood blocks each character and then draws with pencil over them. This detail really gives each character in this book great consistent detail. This helps represent the complexity of each and everyone of us, but not in a over bearing way. The wood block printing technique very lightly presses the ink, giving the aura of warmth and calmness. In a publishers weekly review of this story, I found a similar supporting opinion. It stated that the artistic media contributed to the "story's tranquility" as well as "draw[ing] subtle element's to the viewers' attention"(Children's Book Review).
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Elements of Illustration

The narrative sequence has significance in this story. This story has such detailed imagery, the pictures tell a story within themselves. It is not difficult to see the progressive plot just from flipping the pages. Through the emotion drawn into the characters you are able to see an array of storylines from when Amos gets sick to when his friends spark an idea to visit him at home. The detail of the characters and the color pop surrounded by a white border also directs your eye to the center of the page every time, making you focus on the plot and not the details lying around.
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Interplay of Illustration and Text

As I mentioned before, each page turned tells a story in two different way. Through the actual text on the page, and each picture tells a story all by itself. The interplay of this helps a child not only read what is going on, but imagine an even bigger story with every image. For example, when a child is looking at Amos reading a story to the owl creative thoughts are sparked from the creative illustrations such as what he may be reading, what the owl is thinking, and what happens after Amos leaves if the owl is afraid of the dark. Overall, the illustrations help represent the overlying message of friendship and always being there for those you love.
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A Sick Day for Amos McGee | Philip C. Stead | Macmillan. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11,

2016, from http://us.macmillan.com/asickdayforamosmcgee/philipcstead

Children's Book Review: A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E.

Stead, Roaring Brook/Porter. (n.d.). Retrieved

February 10, 2016, from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59643-402-8