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Monday you can fall apart. Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
on April 21, 2004
We've all heard the stories of the skies, for whatever reason, raining frogs on innocent town travelers. This natural occurrence of the wild is one of the great weirdnesses of life. So how much odder is it, really, to consider frogs flying? They have all the self-possession required of such a task. Frogs are a uniquely calm species. Confident even. In Dave Wiesner's essentially wordless book "Tuesday", amphibian folk are given the unexplained power of floatation. In his tale, Wiesner considers what exactly frogs would do with the gift of flying if it was granted them.
One of the best pictures in this book is on one of the first pages. There, a turtle cowers into 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 havok. 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 them. The next Tuesday, at the same time, we're given a hint of how a more porcine animal will handle flight.
Wiesner is a genius at the visual gag. His illustrations are simple watercolors, well-detailed and in-depth. Wiesner knows when to give an animal human expressions and when to leave it looking particularly froggy. He gets every single one of those frogs' spots down , and can manipulate his illustrations in such a way that you never doubt for a moment the ridiculous things you're seeing. To top it all off, the man's a master at conveying light. I'm particularly attached to a scene of flying frogs watching t.v., a wary cat crouching in the background. The old lady asleep in the chair is wearing glasses that are reflecting the light of the television perfectly. On top of that, this is exactly what a room lit only by a single screen looks like. Wiesner's details are marvelous. Make sure to notice the frog appreciatively eyeing the old lady's painting of the forest.
There aren't that many wordless picture books out there these days though Wiesner has made a name for himself by specializing in this area. After reading "Tuesday", you can understand why he deserves this honor. Both witty and perverse, this author/illustrator lets you see into worlds you never could have imagined existed before he came up with them. You'll be thankful that he did.