David Wiesner

It’s Friday, and I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend (in amidst all my chores, that is). I have always been a firm believer in picture books as a great way to relax, especially if time and energy are in short supply, and I thought I would share my favorite author/illustrator.

David Wiesner is first and foremost an amazing illustrator. But the thing that stands out most about his books is probably his bizarre sense of humor. In his books, clouds become schools of fish, fish take pictures of each other underwater, and the three pigs have postmodern adventures beyond the pages of their story.

I am not familiar with all of Wiesner’s work (I’ve been rationing it so there will always be something new to surprise me), but I can speak to some of his books.

Flotsam is his most recent publication, and it won the Caldecott Medal this year. One look inside and you will see why. A boy finds an old camera washed up on the beach. He gets the film developed, and the pictures he sees amaze him – fish swimming past the camera, octupi in armchairs, etc. And finally, a progression of pictures of children holding up pictures of other children, which makes it clear that this camera has been travelling the seas for years. Wiesner’s imagination is captivating, and the pictures are breathtaking.
Flotsam

You’ve heard the expression “when pigs fly”? Well on Tuesday, frogs levitate on their lily pads, and roam the town in the middle of the night, startling dogs and midnight snackers alike. The expressions on the frogs’ faces as they discover their new ability are priceless.

Tuesday

Hurricane is probably Wiesner’s most traditional children’s book in that it tells a fairly straightforward narrative about a hurricane which knocks down a large tree in the yard of two boys who have very active imaginations. In the aftermath of the storm, the tree becomes a pirate ship, a space station, a haven of sorts for the boys.

Hurricane

And finally, what is probably my favorite children’s book of all time, Wiesner’s The Three Pigs. It starts as the traditional tale of the three pigs, but when the pigs find a way out of the pages of their own story and begin exploring the world between the pages, things take a decidedly different turn. The illustrations are hilarious and detailed with nuances that merit multiple readings to fully appreciate. As the pigs travel from their own story to the outside, Wiesner’s drawing style changes as well, a clever detail that helps enhance the story. I’m not usually a big fan of the postmodern, but this is a gem, and I don’t think I can really do it justice here. I encourage everyone to go out and read this book today! Plus, the pigs are really cute.

Three pigs coverThree pigs 1Three pigs 2

Other Wiesner titles include:

Sector 7
June 29, 1999
Free Fall
The Loathsome Dragon
Gonna Roll the Bones

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2 Responses to David Wiesner

  1. Dana says:

    I actually remember seeing a news story about Flotsam when it first came out. I can’t really imagine when that would have been, since I so rarely watch morning TV news, but that’s the context I’m remembering it in. Anyway, I remember thinking then that it looked really excellent, and I’m glad you wrote this, so I am reminded that I wanted to actually read it.

  2. kidsilkhaze says:

    I loved Flotsam and was not surprised when it won the Caldecott. I am not such a big fan of Hurricane but I think because it makes sitting through a storm seem kinda fun, which seems odd, because sitting through a hurricane is NOT my idea of fun.

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