Home > Book Reviews, Mock Caldecott 2011 > Chalk, written and illustrated by Bill Thomson

Chalk, written and illustrated by Bill Thomson

Publication Date:
March, 2010

Reviewed For:
Ages 4-8

Journal Review / Summary
SLJ – This stunningly illustrated wordless picture book tells the story of three children who find a bag of magical chalk at the playground on a rainy day. Their drawings come to life, which seems great when a drawing of the sun stops the rain, but is scary when a dinosaur stalks them. A drawing of a rain cloud inside a play tube brings the rain back and dissolves the frightening creature. This imaginative story is the perfect showcase for Thomson’s extraordinary pictures. Though they look like photos or computer-generated images, each one is actually composed using traditional techniques with acrylics and colored pencils. The artist’s clever use of light, perspective, and expression, along with the protagonists’ neat solution to their dilemma, creates a completely satisfying experience. Thomson is a master at visual storytelling.

Illustration Medium:
Acrylic and colored-pencil

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
It’s absolutely incredible.  I seriously thought it was all digitally rendered, and therefore wasn’t all that impressed with it.  But the vibrancy of each illustration and the realistic images make this book larger than life. (Har har. Get it? Because it’s about a dinosaur?)

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
I think the realism of the images makes the story much stronger than it would have been if it was done in childish cartoons, or a less realistic way… it would have taken the serious tone away from the book (though it would have been a lot less scary.)

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Wonderfully done with no words to accompany the illustrations.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
The magic of the story (shown through the bag of chalk held by the spring dinosaur) is well shown throughout each page – whether or not the bag of chalk is present.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
Some of the characters’ faces are a little creepy, and they look very old for what I think their ages are.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Realistic playground.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Imaginative & hopeful.

Delineation of information through illustration:
N/A

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
YES.

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