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Picture Book Analysis Guide
From and “The Children’s Picture Book Project” by Junius Wright
Quotations from Literature and the Child by Lee Galda, Bernice Clluinan, and Lawrence Sipe, 2010
Title______________________________________________ Author______________________________
Date Published:_______________
Step One: Peruse the picture books available and choose one to critically read and analyze.
Step Two: Analyze the text and respond in writing to each of the following questions.
Step Three: (Extra Credit) Find at least two reliable sources of information about the author and fill out the author
study guide. Step Four: Be prepared to share your findings with a small group.
Area A: Illustrations
What is the primary medium (collage, drawings, photographs, etc.) used in the illustrations? How does the media used to create
the illustrations match the mood/tone/theme of the book? For example, does the author use pastels to create a gentle, relaxing
mood, or photographs to add a sense of realism?
“Just as the opera overture contains musical motifs and themes that will occur throughout the opera, thus giving us an idea of
what to expect, so the surrounding elements of the picture book contain much information for predication and speculation
about the characters, plot, setting, mood, and theme of the story” (91). Analyze the front and back covers of the book, the
endpages, and the title page. What do you notice? How do they set the stage for the book to come?
How does the illustrator use various artistic techniques to add to the development of the story and themes? For example, how
does the artist use line, color, shape, texture, and elements of design? Identify the illustration that in your opinion is the most
effective in developing the story as a whole. Explain how two or more elements in the illustration help support and develop the
“Because picture books are so brief, what is omitted is just as important as what is included.” Note the space between page
turns. How do the authors take advantage of that space? Does the author use a question or other device to help move the
reader to the next page? Is there an opportunity to make inferences about what occurs during the page breaks?
“Pictures may extend the meaning of the words.” Also, words can “limit the illustrations by telling us what to pay attention to
and how to interpret them. In some cases the illustrations in picture books provide a much richer, broader context than the
words can possibly convey. The relationships of words and pictures can also be ironic, subversive, or even completely
contradictory.” Describe the relationship of the words and pictures in your book. How does the “reading” of the illustration
add to the story as a whole? How do the words and pictures integrate to produce a story that is more than either text or
pictures could tell alone? If there are no words, describe how the images work to convey the entire story.
What is the easily identifiable dominant trait of the story’s main character? Identify a character trait of the main character that
is established through the text. Identify a character trait of the main character that is established through the illustrations.
Area B: Text
The text of picture books is usually limited, so the author has to pick and choose his/her words carefully, often using simple
sentences and paragraphs. How is the text organized in the book that you have chosen to review? What word choices stand
out? If there is no text, explain how the illustrations alone lead the reader through the story.
Children’s book authors often employ literary tools to help make the story more vivid in the readers’ minds. Commonly used
literary tools are rhythm, alliteration, repetition, refrains, onomatopoeia, simile, personification, rhyme, and imagery. Identify
three different areas in the text where a literary tool has been employed. For each example you identify, state the type of
literary tool that is used and how the employment of the tool helps support the story. If there is no text, what inferences are
required by the reader? How do the illustrations support those inferences? Identify three inferences.
Describe the style of your chosen picture book. Is the language rich or simple? Is the word choice colloquial or sophisticated?
Does the language have an internal rhythm and melody, making it a pleasure to read aloud? Describe the mood of the text?
How does the language add to that mood? If there are no words in your picture book, describe how that effects the story
What is the theme of this text? How do you know? Who do you think is the target audience of this text? Why is your selected
theme appropriate for that audience?