Art of the Picture Book Syllabus

Creation of a Visual Interpretive Analysis

Analysis of a Picture Book



Each illustration in a picture book both communicates on its own and as one of a series of illustrations in the total aesthetic composition. We can educate ourselves to see and interpret pictures more astutely by studying individual images and considering alternative interpretations of those images. Each of the illustrations below is rich in alternative interpretations. Looking at these illustrations, consider:

  • What is communicated?

  • How is it communicated?

  • How does the artist exploit the characteristics of the medium or media used?

  • What is the interplay among visual elements?

The designers of these analyses encourage others to increase their visual acuity and sensitivity as they consider possible meanings and the visual elements employed.

Amazon Diary: The Jungle Adventures of Alex Winters. Hudson Talbott and Mark Greenberg. (New York: Putnam, 1996). Designed by Amy Marie Keller.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's House. Faith Ringgold. (New York: Hyperion, 1993). Designed by Marjorie Farquharson.

Eleanor. Barbara Cooney. (New York: Viking, 1996). Designed by Kay Vandergrift.

How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story. Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Beth Peck. (New York: Clarion Books, 1988). Designed by Sonja Cole.

Marianthe’s Story. One: Painted Words Two: Spoken Memories. Aliki. (New York: Greenwillow, 1998). Designed by Patricia Joel.

Miss Rumphius. Barbara Cooney. (New York: Viking, 1982). Designed by Cathi Miyoshi-Miller.

Nappy Hair. Carolivia Herron. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda. (New York: Knopf, 1997). Designed by Kay E. Vandergrift.

The Old Man and His Door. Gary Soto. Illustrate by Joe Cepeda. (New York: Philomel, 1996). Designed by Grace Oliff.

She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head! Kathryn Lasky. Illustrated by David Catrow. (New York: Hyperion, 1995). Designed by Kay Vandergrift.

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by James Ransome. (New York: Knopf, 1993). Designed by Kay E. Vandergrift.

Tuesday. David Wiesner (New York: Clarion, 1991). Designed by Cheryl Erenberg.

What a Truly Cool World. Julius Lester. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda. (New York, Scholastic, 1999). Designed by Janet Hilbun.


Created July 15, 1997 and is continuously revised
SCILS, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey