Children's Literature Term Paper

Total Length: 994 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Children's literature can provide rich pictorials that appeal equally to adults as to children. David Wiesner is one author-illustrator that can be singled out for his talents at reeling in grown-ups. Some of his picture books are exactly that; containing few or no words, they feel more like surreal comic strips than children's literature. Wiesner's artwork, usually done in watercolor or colored pencil, is at once striking and subtle. The subject matter often seems eerie until the end of the story, which finishes on an upbeat note. Books like Sector 7, Tuesday, Hurricane, and The Three Pigs, all written and illustrated by David Wiesner, convey his mood and tone with pictures alone. Any accompanying text is ancillary to the illustrations and causes the reader to wonder whether the publisher demanded that some words be inserted for convention's sake (especially in Hurricane). Wiesner's illustrations tell the tale far better than any words could; in fact, Hurricane is the weakest of these four books because of the distraction of the verbal narrative. With a talent like Wiesner's, words are redundant; in all these books the pictures drive the story line and themes, and they also help to develop and delineate the characters. David Wiesner is an author/illustrator that can be relished equally by adults and children.

The main media in these four books is watercolor, but in The Three Pigs, Wiesner employs gouache, ink, pencil, and colored pencil. The effect in The Three Pigs is deliberate: Wiesner attempts to deconstruct and reconstruct the traditional tale and needs a multitude of artistic media to portray different layers of literary reality.
The original fairy tale is drawn with definite black outlines and gouache, creating a decidedly comic book effect. The reader is made fully aware of the allusion to comics when the story is told in cells, but the real trick emerges early: the three little pigs jump out of their own story! The big bad wolf imagines he has eaten the pigs, but Wiesner draws them with colored pencil, leaping out of the two-dimensional reality of the cells. The difference in texture and drawing here is remarkable and even the dialogue bubbles contain a different font to accentuate the different levels of reality. In the middle of The Three Pigs, Wiesner uses entire blank pages with just a splattering of illustration; the pigs have manipulated their own fairy tale by folding its comic cells into paper airplanes. Finally, in a striking and unexpected interlude, Wiesner uses pastels in a hyper-childlike rendition of "Hey Diddle." The cat and the fiddle now jump out of their restricted reality and follow the pigs on their adventures.

Sector 7 is done entirely in watercolor, which is an ideal media for depicting living clouds. The boy flies off on a Casper-like friendly fluff and together they soar to Sector 7, the Cloud Dispatch Center. Slate grey, white, and charcoal tones of blue form the basic palate, while the red in the boys scarf add necessary….....

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