A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Written By: Philip C. Stead & Illustrated By: Erin E. Stead

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A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a Caldecott award winning book written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. This short picture book introduces a sweet character named Amos McGee. Amos is a friendly older man who works at the zoo. Despite having lots to do, Amos always makes time for his zoo friends. One day, Amos wakes up sick and is unable to go to work. Upset and with the sniffles, he curls back into bed. Although he didn't make it in to work that day, "he did receive some unexpected guests..." (Stead).

A Sick Day for Amos McGee is an amazing book packed with beauty and creativity in every single page.

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Analyzing the Elements

Every picture book has different elements that make them unique. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is no exception...

Literary Elements: Literary elements such as plot, characters, setting, theme, and style are reflected in the illustrations by showing the exact message the author wants to convey without adding an excessive amount of text. The illustrations clarify important literary elements that the author does not discuss.

Physical Features: Classic physical features of a picture book such as in, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, contributes to a meaningful experience for the reader. This hardcover, classic book can appeal to any reader and contribute to a meaningful experience because of its high quality. The book itself is squared shape and a perfect size for little readers to enjoy the images. Turning each page is also an enjoyable experience as the book is laid out on beautiful, thick card stock-like paper.

Visual Elements: Out of multiple important visual elements in the book, the most prominent elements used in this picture book would have to be lines and color. Throughout the book, there are a couple of wordless spreads that definitely incorporate said visual elements. These wordless spreads depict important scenes of the book and seem to share a story of their own such as the image where Amos’ friends are waiting for the bus. The author purposely left these pages wordless because a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is definitely the case here. The spread where Amos’ friends are waiting for the bus, like many of the other pages, are not all completely colored. Color seems only to be used on parts of the images that the author/illustrator wants to emphasize. The majority of the colors used are classic, washed out, and give a sense of warmth. The lines in this same page, as throughout the book, are primarily thin lines which suggests an elegant quality. These visual elements are essential for the overall meaning of the picture book as it gives a sense of warmth and elegance..

Artistic Style: The artistic style of this book can be considered both surrealism and realism. This picture book can be considered surrealism because it presents irrational and fantasy situations such as the talking zoo animals who can do human activities such as reading and riding the bus. It can also be considered realism because some aspects, especially in the beginning of the book, can be true to life. It can also be considered realism because the images are more real life looking than typical cartoon depictions. This style contributes to the overall meaning of the picture book as it really allows young readers to stay interested in connected to what is happening in the story.

Artistic Media: The artistic media used to illustrate the book was by hand using woodblock printing techniques and pencil. The use of this media helps contribute to the overall sense of warmth and classic elegance.

Elements of Illustration: The elements of illustration in A Sick Day for Amos McGee includes images that take over the entire pages with no framing. The arrangement of the text is usually placed in blank areas. A single illustration and the accompanying text are typically arranged on one page but throughout the book, some scenes are illustrated on two pages. These elements contribute to the overall meaning of the picture book as it contributes to the story’s charm and easy to follow format.

Interplay of Text and Illustrations: The text and illustrations work together in concert to create the meaning of the book. The text alone is very descriptive and it paints an image in the reader’s mind of what is transpiring. The illustrations also reinforce what is happening in the story by providing an exact visual of what is being described in the text. The illustrations are essential because some pages (like the two-page spread below) depicts what is happening in the story when no text is provided.


· "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." Barnes & Noble. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

· Stead, Philip Christian, and Erin E. Stead. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Print.

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“Here is a book that exemplifies that happy combination where words and pictures carry equal weight and yet somehow create a whole that defies arithmetic.”- BookPage (Barnes & Noble)

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A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a Caldecott book that clearly speaks for itself. It tells a wonderful tale of friendship and patience while also incorporating eye catching illustrations and elements that add to the book's charming meaning.
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