By: David Wiesner
Analyzing Art Elements & Techniques in Picture Books
The Caldecot Award Winning Tuesday by David Wiesner is not your average children’s picture book. This book is almost wordless with just a few lines of selective text in the beginning, middle and end. It describes, through complete illustrations, the devious and improbable actions of frogs. Now, these are not your typical everyday kind of toads. No, these frogs have superpowers that allow their herd to rise up and fly on Tuesday evening around eight o’clock. Soaring above from their pond into the neighborhood on their lily pads, Wiesner depicts some of the mischievous things these amphibians get into during nightfall.
The Literary Elements throughout this book are very prominent. As a wordless picture book the illustrations set the whole tone of the book. The frogs flying throughout the night show the plot through the story. The climax can be considered when the frogs rise above on their lily pads and the fall when they return back to their pond, leaving lily pads and people stunned everywhere in the morning.
The particular copy of Tuesday I’d obtained was overflowing with Physical Features. The book shape is more rectangular with nice wide pages when opened. The thick printer paper leaves a glossy shine when in the light while the hardcover contributes to the overall natural feel of the book, making it easily accessible for teachers and children to read/hold.
Since this book is almost wordless the Visual Elements tell the whole story. For example, on the second page, after stating the time was Tuesday evening around eight, there is three horizontal panels showing a turtle sitting on his rock. Minding his own business, he looks into the sky and notices a strange phenomenon before him. Three horizontal panels show his discovery, indicating the time between is a few minutes. The top panel shows the sunset and the turtle just hanging out. The middle and bottom panel when the moon is rising shows the turtles expressions. The colors of the sunset and moon rising within minutes indicate a change in time as well. Similarly, on pages thirteen and fourteen the illustrations bleed throughout. This double page spread suggests actually two scenes. The background shows the frogs flying in the neighborhood towards someone’s house. Then, there are three vertical panels overlapping the partial background illustrating the frog’s arrival in the house through the window and chimney. The panels indicate the scenes are seconds apart. The skinny white border around the panels edges also pop out to the reader just enough to notice the sections. The picture book is consistently blue and green for nighttime signifying the association with nature and the calming, restful effects of sundown.
Tuesday is mostly impressionistic in terms of Artistic Style. The illustrations are life like making it easy for a child to picture these actions in their own neighborhood. Looking at it carefully can help to stimulate a child’s imagination, allowing them to visualize their own Tuesday night.
Watercolor paintings flood the pages allowing colors and hues to be mixed conceivably. Each frog has its own color and pattern different from the next. Even though they travel in a herd, the characteristics differentiate them in their appearance and actions.
Each illustration has its own distinct description. Some are double pages, single pages or overlapping. Most of the pages depict the picture and have a thick white border around providing constant emphasis. The few pages that bleed out are double and have overlapping images all in one. This indicates a major transition in the scene. As stated before, a few pages have separate horizontal panels that show action and time and three pages have minimal text relaying the date and time. The sequence of the story flows smoothly depicting one crazy action after the next.
This no-text book allows for children to use their thoughts. Observing the pictures with no text allows them to make up and create their own version. The illustrations tell a story but this particular one allows the reader to stretch their imagination. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” could be the slogan for this story. No text and lots of pictures equals imaginations running wilds.
In conclusion, this picture book is all around awesome. A great read for young children to adults. No-text can be great for young ones who haven’t quite learned how to read so they analyze the illustrations instead. The blues and greens of this book set the tone for a calming story perfect for unwinding at bedtime. David Weisner really wanted us to make up our own interpretation of the story. Definitely Caldecot worthy!