Monday, September 17, 2012


When I visit schools or teach an illustration class, I’ll often start by asking the question, “What is a picture book?”  The most common answer given is “it’s a story with pictures.”  While this is a correct answer, we can also take a closer look at the story and art that make up the book as a whole, and the choices the author and illustrator made to make the book unique. 

Using one picture book as a guide, talk about each of the following and ask students to comment:

The Idea
How do you think the author came up with the idea for this story?
Is it from personal experience?
Is it something they imagined?
Is it based on scientific facts or a historical event?

How is the book classified?
Fiction/ Non-fiction
Fairy tale or myth

Character and setting
Are the characters and setting real or imagined?
Did the author have to do research to make the story authentic?

Size and Shape
How is the book formatted?
Special shape

 8, 16, 24, 32, or 48 pages

The layout
Are the illustrations on a full page, half page, double page spread or spot art?
How did the illustrator choose to place the text on each page?

Is the art realistic, cartoon, stylized or a combination of these?
What medium did the artist use to create the work?
What viewpoint did the artist choose to create each page? (Close-up, overhead, looking up, eye level, or far away from the viewer?)

Type choice
Is the type small, medium, large or hand lettered? 

Now ask students to choose 5 favorite picture books from home or the library. Ask them to answer the above questions about each book. How are the books they chose similar? How are they different in the choices the author and artist made? When we take a closer look, picture books are much more than just a story with pictures!

Wishing all the teachers, parents and students that read our blog a wonderful new school year full of exciting learning and creating!

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