Song and Dance Man
By Karen Ackerman, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Analysis by Kendra D
His house is just as colorful as he and the grandchildren are. It features all colors one could imagine, with many blue and yellows on the walls and in the furniture. The furniture, the old style TV and the crocheted blanket, reflect the nostalgia felt throughout the entire book. Once they are in the attic, there are not many aspects like the furniture. The backgrounds predominantly feature color, leaving the reader to imagine the setting. The colors are bright, allowing the reader to feel the liveliness of the vaudeville stage dancing.
As the book continues, the entire plot is assisted through the illustrations. If there were no text, the reader could still see and live the scenes and nostalgia with the characters in the text. The theme is also apparent through the illustrations. One of the major themes of life is that it goes too quickly, and it is important to live it with the ones you love doing what you love. The reader lives this theme as they dance and laugh along with the family. However, as soon as the fun gets going, its over. This ending, shown with grandpa laughing as he tries to catch his breath, is symbolic of the them. Life is short, so live it well.
One page that epitomizes the illustrative style is where the grandfather is digging in his chest with all of his memories. Clothing is flying everywhere. In this scene, his bright yellow shirt stands out against the dark chest. The other clothing scattered everywhere creates motion that coincides with the dancing theme. It all seems to dance out of the box. Every line in the shadows can be seen, along with the crosshatching of various colors to get the playful feeling shadows. The shadows around him are in blue, not black like regular shadows. These shadows seem fun. The individual lines of the colored pencil are a very prominent feature throughout the book. Nothing is fully colored in, but seems to be sketched. The reader can see every individual hair on the grandfathers head. This specificity adds a sense of creative caution to the book. One can very literally see the effort the illustrator put into every illustration. In addition, the viewer sees only the grandfather digging through the chest. This point of view makes it seem as though the viewer is one of the children, waiting for their grandfather's show to start.
Visual Elements (Pt. 2)
Elements of Illustration
Interplay of Text and Illustrations
Lukens, R. J., Smith, J. J., & Miller Coffel, C. (n.d.). A Critical Handbook of Children's Literature (9th ed.). Oxford, OH: Pearson Education.
Song and Dance Man. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/225274.Song_and_Dance_Man
Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman | Scholastic.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/song-and-dance-man#cart/cleanup