Written & illustrated by Anthony Browne
Use the double page spread depicting Billy worrying about shoes
LEARNING TO LOOK
This activity is to encourage children to look more closely and
critically at illustrations. It can be modelled whilst working with
the whole class or a mixed ability group, it encourages children
to offer their personal interpretation of the illustration and to
share and shape their ideas orally in a collaborative setting.
The aims of this activity are:
- to increase the interaction with and enjoyment of picture books
for children of all ages
- to develop children's confidence and vocabulary to respond to
what they see - to observe and describe
- to encourage them to build on their previous experience, imagination
and understanding to make sense of visual information - to interpret
- to consider a variety of graphic forms and their interaction
with a text in order to convey layers of meaning - to appreciate
- to recognise different styles and techniques used and developed
by a variety of illustrators - to analyse
- to begin to recognise and appreciate visual metaphor, irony,
puns and jokes etc. - to participate
The following questions have been designed to help children to
look more closely at the illustrative work of Anthony Browne,
moving from the whole picture to the smallest part and to search
for and use all available clues given by the artist to make meaning.
Please select and adapt the questions to make them appropriate for
If possible give children one copy of the picture to share between
two or use an enlarged picture that everyone can see.
TELL ME ABOUT ANTHONY BROWNE'S ILLUSTRATION. . .
Please select/adapt questions, which you think are most appropriate
for the children you are working with. . .
What do you immediately notice about the layout of these pages?
Why do you think Anthony Browne has chosen different coloured backgrounds
for each page?
How would you describe the two colours?
Look at the thin black border around the picture surrounded by
a thin white border. What is the effect of these narrow tight lines?
What is the effect of enclosing the illustration in these borders?
How does it affect you as an observer? Are you allowed into this
How does this picture make you feel? Sympathetic, fearful, anxious
In the first picture depicting Billy worrying about shoes, we view
him in a wide shot which contrasts with the close up shot on the
next page. What is the effect of this on you and your understanding
of Billy's anxiety?
These pictures are full of tension, how has Anthony Browne achieved
Despite the anxiety and tension there is also a suggestion of humour,
where does thiscome from?
Describe the layout of the first picture, for example Billy's bed
is placed in the corner of the room. How does this impact on Billy's
Notice the wavy lines of the candlewick bedspread which engulf
Billy's frightened body. Look at the shading of the rest of his
bedclothes, how do they help to depict his fear?
What can you imagine is outside the open window, what kind of night
Who or what opened this window?
Why would Billy worry about shoes?
Who do you imagine these shoes belong to?
Where do you think these shoes are marching to?
Why do you think the illustrator has made them go through the window?
Consider how the illustrator has made your eyes travel across this
page, where are you going to?
What else do you think could emerge from under his bed?
Consider the setting of this illustration, time of day, time of
year, time in history. How do you know this is not a contemporary
How would you describe the atmosphere contained in the picture
showing Billy worrying about clouds?
What kind of cloud is hanging over Billy? What do you think is
How has the artist created the heaviness and depth of this cloud?
What is the effect of the shadows from the cloud?
Who or what is Billy looking at?
Can he escape from this room?
If you could hear sounds in these pictures what would they be?
How do you think Anthony Browne has drawn these pictures?
Describe the quality of the tones he has used, why do you think
he has chosen to keep these illustrations monotone?
What do you notice about the style and size of the font on both
In what ways does the illustrator make the reader work with the
visual and written texts?
WRITE IT DOWN
Harvest children's responses and record their descriptions and
comments on a flip chart. Are there any aspects of the picture that
they find particularly interesting or puzzling?