Cover image for Picture this : how pictures work
Picture this : how pictures work
Bang, Molly.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : SeaStar Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
96 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NC960 .B29 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The illustrator of a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood provides a step-by-step account of her work to reveal the principles of illustration and the role of shape and color in expressing ideas and emotions.

Author Notes

Molly Bang was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1943. After college, Bang taught English in Japan. She returned to the U.S and earned her graduate degree in East Asian Languages and Literatures, then worked in India, Bangladesh, and West Africa for Johns Hopkins, Unicef and Harvard. Her first books were translations of folktales, which she also illustrated.

Bang has received many awards and honors, including the prestigious Caldecott Honor Book Award three times, for The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, Ten, Nine, Eight and When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry. She won the Giverny Award for Best Science Picture Book for Common Ground in 1998. Ten, Nine, Eight also won the ALA Notable Children's Book and When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry, won the Charlotte Zolotow Award. It was also an ALA Notable Book and a Jane Addams Children's Honor Book

Her titles include Nobody Particular: One Woman's Fight to Save the Bays, Tiger's Fall, Little Rat Sets Sail, My Light, and Picture This: Perception and Composition.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Bang published the first version of her groundbreaking exploration into the psychology and physiology of viewer response in 1991 (Bullfinch Pr.). Having confronted her own compositional challenges, the author/illustrator wanted to share her newfound understanding regarding the language of images. Using construction paper shapes as stand-ins for narrative elements in "Little Red Riding Hood," she explains how changes in size, color, and placement affect observers' emotions. In his foreword, visual thinking and psychology scholar Rudolf Arnheim called this primer on picture structure a "grammar for the eyes." Textual edits and graphic enhancements were provided in a 2001 revision (SeaStar). Chronicle's 25th anniversary edition features a handsome new design and additional content. Uncoated gray pages unify and offer rest from the dynamic red, black, white, and purple scenes. With text on one side of the gutter and images on the other, each element now has more room. Fonts are sized, colored, and organized for maximum clarity and flow. The first section is now titled "Building the Emotional Content of Pictures," with subtle changes underscoring intent. Bang's ongoing questions allow readers to compare layouts and develop their own ideas before considering hers. Her voice is noticeably more confident in the chapter on structural principles, as if time and experience have bolstered her beliefs. Most exciting is the new chapter deconstructing four full-color compositions from her Caldecott Honor title, When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry. (Scholastic); she discusses the portrayal of feelings ranging from fury to contentment. The final section contains experiments for inspired readers. VERDICT Many art books draw attention to formal elements; no others manage to elucidate the how and why of perception for nearly all ages with such depth and ingenuity. A must-have for picture book aficionados. [Ed. note: See Up Close interview with Molly Bang, p. 18.]-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 6
Building a Picturep. 8
The Principlesp. 42
Arranging Shapes on a Rectanglep. 92