Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Picturebook Analysis

Amie Grosshans

I had my first assignment due this week.  It’s a three-to-five page paper that analyzes a two-page spread of a picturebook of our choice.  I chose a book called Pete with No Pants by Rowboat Watkins.  It’s about a little elephant named Pete who likes to pretend he’s something else: a boulder, a squirrel, or a cloud.  Pete does not like to wear pants, though, so he only pretends to be things that don’t wear pants.  It’s a fun book with cute illustrations and I would recommend reading it.  

I initially thought three-to-five pages was a lot to write about a picturebook, though.  After all, the two-page spread had only twenty-six words.  How could I spin that into three-to-five pages?  As it turns out, that might not be enough for me to write about everything I want to.  That’s because there are many levels on meaning in a picturebook, both in the language and the pictures.  I noticed more and more detail every time I read the book.  Even though there weren’t many words on the page, those words had a pattern and rhythm that I only noticed when I took a closer look.  For example, Pete only uses one-syllable words and uses the same pattern for his questions over and over.  This predictability means the reader knows how the story is going to go and encourages the reader to answer Pete’s questions themselves.  In doing so, the reader learns to compare and contrast basic characteristics like color and size and learns about the world with Pete.  The pictures also have a pattern.  The same soft color palette and light lines are used throughout the book. Also, the same characters appear over and over, including a little bird and two little worms.  The reader can search for these animals on each page, making it exciting to look at.  These are only a few of the many details found in Pete with No Pants.  I enjoyed this assignment because it opened my eyes to how complex picturebooks are.  They engage young minds through words and pictures in so many different ways.  Before this class, I thought picturebooks were just simple stories.  Now I can see they are much, much more.  I encourage you to take a closer look at your favorite picturebooks to see what you can discover