Friday, June 29, 2012

In Pictures and In Words: Chapter 7-Ideas and Content

The second section of this marvelous book covers the 50 illustration techniques and how the relate to the qualities of "Good Writing"
Although Katie Wood Ray suggests book titles, she invites teacher to take books that they already know and look at them through a different lens.

I love how she has organized each illustration technique:

1. Something to Notice-Names the illustrative technique
2. Illustrative Example-Provide an example of what this looks like in a picture book.
3. An Understanding for Young Writers and Illustrators-Involves the kind of thinking you might do with the technique.
4. In a Teacher's Voice: An Idea for Trying it Out-This is just what it says.  There is a little script that you might use when discussing the use of this technique with your students,
5. A Writing Connection-This section helps make the composing connection between writing and illustrating. For me, this is the "Aw, Yes!" moment.  This is the section I want to understand and internalized.  This is the justification for conducting illustrative studies.

Chapter 7:  Ideas and Content
This quote from the book caught my eye.  Katie Wood Ray mentioned a quote from Pulitzer Prize winner, Annie Dillard, "The writer of any work, and particularly any nonfiction word, must decide two crucial points: what to put in and what to leave out."

This was an issue with my students' writing.  They write about going to the fair, but the bulk of their writing is about getting in the car and driving.  Then they would write, "We had fun."  Sigh... 

While it is tempting to tell you about 12 illustrative techniques she talks about in this section, I will just brush on a few.

I already spoke about this book during Chapters 1-6, but I didn't have the book.
So on Monday, I ran to school and grabbed my copy!

Love this book!  (Brace yourself... I am going to repeat myself). This is the story of 4 people who go the the same park and interact with each other.  However, their perspectives are very different.  The park looks very different to the characters (and the readers) because of their perspectives. 

Technique #2: "Illustrations have positioning perspective: a central image may be pictured from the front, the back, the side, above, or below."

The text says, "Then his mom called him and he had to go.  He looked sad."

This young boy is sad to say goodbye to the friend he made at the park. I find this picture extremely effective.

Technique #12 "Illustrations may show the perspective of the narrator, so you actually see things through his or her eyes."

The text on this page says,"Of course, the other dog didn't mind, but its owner was really angry, the silly twit."

Um... Yes!  I can see she was angry.  She is peering down at me!

I modeled this technique with my students when I wrote about my trip to Lambert's Restaurant. This was one of the pages from that book.  My students and I co-wrote it.

Then one of my students tried it out.
I am making a big sandcastle.
The next book I wanted to share was another Anthony Browne book, called Willy the Wimp. Sorry this book is out of print, but you maybe able to find it in your library.  It is the story of Willy who is bullied by a street gang.  So he decides to take action.  Anthony Browne likes to use gorillas as his characters... so fun!
Technique #6:  "Small,separate scenes can capture what happens over time."

The text reads,"Willy took up weight lifting, and gradually over weeks and months Willy got bigger... and bigger.. and bigger... AND BIGGER!

Now it is your turn!

You can enter to win
Here is how (pick just one)

1.  Followers:  Leave your reflections on chapter 7 in the comment section of my blog...Simple!
2. Bloggers:  Blog about chapter 7 and include a link back to this page.  Then link your blog post below.  

Two winners will be randomly selected  and announced on July 5th.


  1. Whoops....too many errors in my first comment, need to do a better job editing.

    Let me try this again.

    These chapters cover so many important concepts how illustrations draw in a reader, and offer so many ideas to teach our young writers during writer's workshop time. I teach K4 and have used "Flower Garden" by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt to show many of the concepts dealing with perspective, tone, details and many of the other ideas that are listed in ch. 7.

    I find it difficult to focus on many books to show the different processes illustrators use to enhance the author's words and perspective, and I appreciate it when I can find one book that shows of few of these different concepts. I think for many younger writers it can be overwhelming if we feel the need to show multiple books, and so I try to show just a few and then expand ideas as I conference with individual or small groups of children. I am loving though, reading about so many new books I need to find at the library and or purchase for the coming school year.

    1. Great book suggestion. I know what you mean! The floor in my work space looks like a library had an earthquake. I have books everywhere trying to find good examples. I am excited that we will be creating one list that will help us!

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Sue, I LOVE Flower Garden, and I have the big book. Thanks for reminding me. Can a teacher have so many books that they forget? LOL!

  3. I left these book titles on the Kindergarten Cafeteria comments - but wanted them to get on your book list since I think they help illustrate some of the more difficult criteria to find showing passage of time, different perspectives inside/outside, and list types of illustrations - Here are the titles and authors: The Napping House (Audrey and Don wood), To Market To Market (Anne Miranda illus. Janet Stevens) All In A Day (various illustrators) In The Night Kitchen (Maurice Sendak) and just because it is soon the 4th of July - How To Bake An American Pie (Karma Wilson illus. Raul Colon and because it needs to fit somewhere in all this...Cook A-Doodle-Doo! Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. Ok I will stop now!

    1. Thank you Sue! These are great books to add to the list.

  4. Forgot one....Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold - inside/outside perspectives

  5. Thanks, Deedee, for the very helpful and insightful post. I am so loving this book. Chapter 7 was a challenge for me. There is so much to think about. I love the way each section is set up and as you mentioned- The Writing Connection is the part I want to digest and internalize.

    I am summering at the lake (I'm not complaining), but I am away from my classroom books. I want to thank you and everyone for all the wonderful book suggestions you all are making. The master list you are putting together, Deedee, will be an amazing resource.

    1. Sandi... there you are. 1st... summering at the lake sounds amazing! 2nd... you won the $25 gift certificate for books! Cha-ching! I don't have your email though. Will you email me please?

  6. I love using the question, "What do you notice?", and this book has shown me how to use it to purposefully teach using illustrations. I am so excited to use this book in the classroom in September, but right now everything is racing around my brain. I can't wait to actually sit down and make a plan for it. The book ideas that are being given are very helpful too. I have so many books but have a hard time deciding what to use them for to best teach certain concepts. Thanks again for the book study!

    1. Thank you Abby! "Racing around my brain" is exactly how I feel... and I have been playing around with this idea of illustrative studies for 10 months. Goodness, we are going to be smart!

  7. I love this book. I think about all the times we have talked about illustrations but now I have the right words to say. Also now I will take the time and not rush through to get to the writing. I too am vacationing at the lake!

    1. Jealous! My guys just took the boat to the river.. not quite the same:(

      I agree, developing the language for these studies will be key. I am excited about adding the charting aspect!

  8. I started reading this book after I saw her 2 weeks ago! She is such an inspiration, especially as I move from 4th to 1st. One of the best arts of chapter 7 are all the suggested books to help with all the techniques. I'm adding them to my read alouds so I can read them before we study the illustrations (this way I do not have to take the time in Writing Workshop to read the book) so I can make sure my mini lessons are around 10/15 minutes.

    Thank you for hosting!

    1. Doesn't she make it sound so simple? And it really is. Yes, her book organization has been a huge seller for me. It takes the guess work out... LOVE!!!

  9. I really liked how Chapter 7 gave examples on techniques to use for teaching my kids about illustrating. It's teaching me too. I can't wait to go through my classroom library to find books to help with the study. :)


    1. Jana, I agree! I went back to my classroom to grab one book (Voices in the Park) and I came out with my arms full of books. It is infectious!

  10. i find it all so intesesting how there is so much exciting and interesting noticings to do with children and the books we purposely read to them. I think the reason that i find this chapter so interesting is that I always strugglee with my kids illustations or lack of. I find that they are just drawing a stick figure and not much else. Maybe if I incorporate some of these ideas from chapter 7 it might help them become better illustartors and writers.


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