Caldecott illustration analysis

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Caldecott illustration analysis

  1. 1. *Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated the children’s book, “Where The Wild Things Are”. It was originally published by Harper & Row in 1963 and quickly gained success. It 1964 “Where The Wild Things Are” was awarded the Caldecott Medal for its rich illustrations and is well known to many as a classic even today. * By: Holly Manns
  2. 2. * According to our text, “Where the Wild Things Are” is widely credited for starting the age of realism within children’s literature. The context deals with strong realities such as misbehaving children and heated exchanges that can occur inside the family dynamic. (Tunnell, p.49). However when analyzing the illustrations of this now classic text in their own entity another rather distinct artistic style emerges; surrealism.
  3. 3. Surrealism is defined as a skewed version of reality. It varies from a realistic depiction of everyday life in subtle differences the mind might find in a dreamlike state. (Tunnel, 33). The following illustrations display this artistic style in several unique ways. In the uppermost picture we notice a fairly realistic scene. The main character, Max, is wearing a costume and causing fairly normal little boy chaos in his pursuit of the families dog. The second image is far from realistic however. It displays imaginary monsters with varying defining features dancing with Max in the moonlight. The indicating factor that makes this text surrealism is concealed in the background of the first picture. There is a small and almost hidden drawing of Max’s that looks erringly similar to the monsters he encounters so far away from home. Without the illustrations this clue would have not been presented and the conclusion that this adventure was only a rather vivid figment of a little boy’s imagination would have been hard to justify.
  4. 4. * *Line can be a useful artistic element when used correctly to set a mood, advance a story, or to draw the reader’s attention. Maurice Sendak manages to skillfully use line in his text to achieve all of this and much more.
  5. 5. Lines are used in the first image to direct the viewers eye. The curved lines of the monster as well as the slanted curve of the hill seem to draw the viewers eye naturally to Max in this scene. In the second image we see the use of lines to convey movement and excitement. The curved flag seems to be rippling in the wind. The bow of the boat is at a angle suggesting rapid movement. The sea is bursting with small curved lines that suggest rough waters. All of these minuet details add danger and adventure to Max’s journey.
  6. 6. * *A unique aspect of “Where the Wild Things Are” is that the story takes place in two different settings. The first that we glimpse slightly at the beginning and the end of the text is the boy’s home and the second of course being the home of the wild things. The illustrations in the book cleverly use shape to help bring these rather distinct places to life for the reader.
  7. 7. This image depicts Max in his real home. Angular shapes are often used ,as in this image, to suggest human made objects. This is seen in several places throughout this image such as the tent, hanger, and the stool. They are all harsh and unyielding shapes compared to those used in the rest of the text. However, they also add a sense of reality to the setting. These are all shapes we are accustomed to seeing in our own every day life. In contrast the second illustration portrays many more curved shapes to suggest something found in nature. The monsters all have rounded forms. They have smooth noses and their bodies are all lacking distinctive definition. The abstract and oblique shapes add a sense of fantasy to the story as well as credibility to the theory that the place Max visits is only his imagination running wild.
  8. 8. * *The use of color can change the meaning of even the most meticulously detailed illustrations. They can be manipulated into creating an impression of intense action or overwhelming joy. Maurice Sendak was able to use the adaptable nature of color to his advantage when illustrating “Where the Wild Things Are”.
  9. 9. *The visual above showcases a perfect example of Maurice Sendak’s technique with color. He created a rather gloomy atmosphere by choosing muted hues of red, yellow, green, and blue. The excitement of the wild things has reached a all time low at this point in the text and loneness as set in for Max. The lack of bright colors and almost monotone of dark values reinforces this depressing feeling to the reader.
  10. 10. * *Texture is defined as the tactical impression communicated by an artist. (Tunnel, pg. 36). It can give images a three dimensional quality such as in “Where the Wild Things Are” that makes illustrations all the more real.
  11. 11. *The use of texture is very apparent throughout “Where the Wild Things Are”. It is perhaps most prominent in the almost life like fur of the monsters that can be found in the following images. The illustrator strategically used a cross hatching technique to replicate a seemingly course texture.
  12. 12. * *A lot goes into creating a great and memorable children’s book. Perhaps the most crucial of this is the art of composition. Composition at its most basic is the unification of all of the other elements in a text such as shape, texture, color, and so on. By carefully considering these elements as well as their arrangement on a page a author/illustrator can deliver their story in the most effective fashion possible.
  13. 13. One of the most interesting aspects of composition that can be found in “Where the Wild Things Are” is arguably the unique way Maurice Sendak has arranged and sized his illustrations. Notice in the images above how the pictures start out relatively small but quickly enlarge as the story progresses. This trend continues on the next slide as well.
  14. 14. The pictures continue to expand until reaching a set point within the text. At that point a reversal seems to occur and the illustrations begin to gradually become smaller in size. The purposeful arrangement of illustrations in this order seems to correlate with Max’s emotions in addition to his imagination. The initial enlargement symbolizes the depth of imagination Max experiences. While he is at his home in the beginning of the story the pictures are relatively small in stature because Max is still in the real world. Then as his adventure begins and grows the illustrations do as well until the moment Max realizes he misses his home. The dwindling illustration size that occurs at that moment represents the fading of Max’s imaginative world in pursuit of the real one with his family who loves him best of all.

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