What purpose does the imagery of the cape seem to serve?
It's purpose is:
The cape serves as a point of transition in the story's plot. In the previous
pages of the story, the flying frogs got caught in clothing hanging from a clothesline.
The illustration just before ours depicts the hapless frogs colliding with newly
washed linen, temporarily blinded and certainly befuddled. Our illustration enters
with an inset of the caped frogs flying triumphantly through the night. This provides
both a contrast in tone and a transition of plot, setting, and visuals for the
Popular society views the caped figure as the ultimate ideal, a hero whose
boundless strength and magical powers allows him to soar far above the clouds.
The frog in the first inset embodies this untouchable, yet idyllic, creature
of fantasy. Until this point in the story, the frog has merely been a pawn,
seized by the whim of the Gods and placed to float above the town.
In his donning of the cape, the frog accepts his mission: to fly where no
frog has flown before. In doing so he asserts himself as a proactive character
to whom we can aspire. Which one of us would not like to don wings and escape
from the doldrums of our own lilypads?
The following pages emphasize this point, as the frogs enter and explore Granny's
house while she sleeps. This entire sequence emphasizes one of this picturebook's
major literary themes.
The cape can be seen as a visual device that provides movement to the illustration.
This is covered more fully in my discussion of drapery.