Tuesday, by David Weisner, takes place over a twenty four hour period, somewhere in the U.S. At around 8:00 in the evening, we see pond creatures stirring. The fish and turtles stare open mouthed at the frogs who are levitating on their lily pads. Under cover of darkness, these frogs scare birds on a telephone wire, surprise a late night snacker, mess up the laundry hanging outside to dry, exist peacefully with a snoozing grandmother asleep in front of her television, and terrify a dog. The next morning, police and detectives are outside trying to ascertain the meaning of lily pads left along the highway. And that’s it. The text is almost non existent, so the readers must rely fully on the amazingly rendered illustrations.
This Caldecott winning book has delighted children all over the world, and we have to ask ourselves, ‘why’? Nothing seems to happen in this tale. Perhaps children wonder about what happens after they are tucked in at night, sometimes unwillingly. Frogs flying around could be what’s going on, they don’t know. Perhaps children like to see animals taken out of their element and placed in surprising places. Certainly, having the frogs pull the wool over so many grown ups eyes is fun – turning the tables on those people who can be so darn bossy! The illustrations are absolutely remarkable. Rendered in a manner that is realistic – highlights and shadows along with a three dimensional perspective and also dream like due to the constant night time and early morning lighting. The color palate is sophisticated using primarily greens, purples and blues. The setting would be familiar to children – a kitchen, a pond, the outside of a house and a tv room are certainly spaces that children will recognize. The otherworldly flying frogs dwelling fairly peacefully with these earth bound locals demands a suspension of rationality, something very easy for children to do. This book would be best enjoyed in a toddler story time. The lack of text may present some problems in presenting to a group – perhaps the librarian would ask the children to share their thoughts on each page.
This is a picture book which appeals to a wide age range and its possibilities are endless. For those of you unfamiliar with this treasure, we start before the title page as we see frogs, peacefully at first on their lily pads and then slowly levitating. After the title page, we join a pond turtle as he looks up in amazement. The book proper begins at sundown where text says: “Tuesday evening, around eight.” The frogs start flying solemnly at first and then with increasing glee as they fly through the town, entering houses, startling dogs and one man enjoying a midnight snack. The time is the only text given as the night continues. As dawn approaches, the pads and the frogs they bear fly lower and lower until the pads fall to earth and the frogs leap back to their pond, leaving the villagers to wonder at the lily pads left behind. The last page gives the time as “Next Tuesday, seven fifty-eight p.m.” and we see shadows of flying pigs on a barn door.
Hurst, Carol. [Review of the book Tuesday]. Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site. Retrieved http://www.carolhurst.com/titles/tuesday.html
Wiesner again. It’s not enough that three of his books win Caldecott Awards, but all THREE have also ended up on this Top 100 list! Amazing! Lest you feel he is the sole darling of the librarian set, I think this book gives ample proof that he commands a fair amount of love wherever he goes. That’s part of the man’s power. Not that he’s not talented. Lots of people are talented. But that he has the ability to convince so many people of that talent. Everyone agrees on Wiesner! It’s a gift many an author/illustrator would kill for.
The plot from my old review: “One of the best pictures in this book is on one of the first pages. There, a turtle cowers in its shell as black eyed, pupil-less frogs rise on their lily pads out of the water. The frogs descend, so to speak, on a nearby suburb, and proceed to wreak some minor havoc. They disturb a man pausing to eat a late night sandwich. They disturb laundry and enter old ladies’ homes to watch a little telly. And they take a great amount of pleasure in scaring a dog that would undoubtedly eat them if it had the chance. As the book ends, the frogs are relieved of their otherworldly powers and hop back to the swamps, leaving only their lily pads behind. The next Tuesday, at the same time, we’re given a hint of how a more porcine animal will handle such unexpected flight.”
100 Best Books for Children offers some fascinating insight into the inspiration behind Wiesner’s works. “David Wiesner became fascinated with a different kind of picture book from the ones being published for children. After studying the work of Lynd Ward, he knew he wanted to try to craft books with a minimum amount of words, or no words – books that allowed the pictures to do the storytelling by themselves.” About this book, “Wiesner liked Tuesday because its ‘ooze’ sound seemed to evoke frogs.”
I am amused by Publishers Weekly which said of the book, “Wiesner’s visuals are stunning: slightly surrealistic, imbued with mood and mystery, and executed with a seemingly flawless command of palette and perspective. But, perhaps because this fantasy never coalesces around a human figure, it is less accessible and less resonant than his tales that center on a child protagonist.”
School Library Journal was also a little mixed when it said, “Dominated by rich blues and greens, and fully exploiting its varied perspectives, this book treats its readers to the pleasures of airborne adventure. It may not be immortal, but kids will love its lighthearted, meticulously imagined, fun-without-a-moral fantasy. Tuesday is bound to take off.”
School Library Journal [Review of the book Tuesday]. Retrieved http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production/2012/06/11/top-100-picture-books-24-tuesday-by-david-wiesner/