Quick Guide – Tuesday

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In our occasional series of Quick Guides, we present some ideas for discussing children’s books that can be read and discussed at home or school. This guide for David Wiesner’s Tuesday was originally posted to our old website in July 2000. We’ve made some tweaks to make the notes more friendly to anyone using them at home.

About the author

David Wiesner is an American illustrator and writer of children’s books, known best for picture books including some that tell stories without words. His books often feature worlds-within-worlds and themes about looking beyond the obvious to consider alternative possibilities. Children and animals are usually more perceptive than the adults, who are caught up in practical day-to-day living and have forgotten how to use the imagination and to ponder the question, ‘what if…?’

Earlier this year Nikki Gamble met with David to take about his books and the art of wordless storytelling. You can listen to the podcast here.

About the book

In this imaginative, virtually wordless picture book strange things happen on a Tuesday night. Frogs are sitting on their Lily pads but at 8.00 they find they have the power to lift off. They fly to a nearby town where they have an exuberant adventure, which causes havoc. Next morning, normality is restored and the police are left to ponder at the large lily pads scattered all over the town. What will happen next Tuesday?

Reminiscent of a Twilight Zone story, this award-winning picture book uses film-like techniques to create a story that readers will love to interpret. The crepuscular tones evoke the twilight mode – a time when we feel that anything can happen. There is much to talk about and interpret and the book will inspire children to write their own stories and text in different genre e.g. news reports.

Before Reading

Cover story

Distribute the books or project an image of the front cover using a visualiser. In pairs, ask the children to look closely to work out what’s happening.

  • What do you notice on the front cover?
  • Is there anything strange or puzzling?
  • If necessary prompt them to look at the dog on the righthand side (recto) of the page. What is he looking at?
  • What are the large green shapes?
  • Have they noticed the shadows?
  • Tuesday is a strange title for a book. Encourage the children to speculate why it might be called this.

Decide how you are going to read the story. Will you read together with the class or have the children read in groups or share individually? For a Literature Circle type discussion, distribute copies of the book. Ask the children to read independently and then make notes. You could use the following prompts to support their note-making.

  • What did you like or dislike about this story?
  • Did it remind you of anything else that you have read or seen before?
  • Was there anything that you found strange or puzzling?
  • What do you think will happen next?

After they have shared their initial thoughts and revisited the book, you may want to gather the class to share responses. The prompts below will aid deeper analysis.

Crime scene

An alternative way to approach the story in school would be to set up a crime scene. Create an area where it appears there has been an intruder who has dislodged things from their usual places. Arrange some giant lily pads around the scene and puddles of water. Cordon of the scene with red and white tape, as used to mark a crime scene. Invite the children to work out what may have happened. Ideally, do this on a Wednesday morning…Tuesday is the magical night!

During reading

Framing the story

Turn the page and look at the three frames with the frogs.

  • What do you think is happening here?
  • Why do you think David Wiesner has used three separate frames rather than using one picture?
  • What do you imagine the frogs in the second frame are thinking?
  • What do you think the frogs in the third frame are saying?

You could give the children speech bubble Post-its to write the dialogue. Share their suggestions.

‘Tuesday evening around eight’

Where is this story set? What time of day? The sun is setting and the moon is starting to rise in the sky.

What do you notice about the three frames at the beginning of the story?

The three frames zoom in on the turtle sitting on a log. This technique is used a lot in films. An establishing shot opens a film and is then followed by close-ups.  Ask the children to think about the information we can get from an establishing shot (e.g. setting). The information can we get from a close-up (e.g. emotions and reactions). Notice where the turtle is looking. Does the direction change? What might this suggest?

Flying frogs

In pairs, ask the children to discuss what is happening on this page. Share ideas. Use the following supplementary prompts to deeper analysis, if needed.

  • Can you tell what the frogs are thinking and feeling?
  • How would you describe their expressions?
  • What about the turtle and the fish?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What is the viewpoint in this picture
  • How would you describe the colour palette David Weisner has used? Why do you think he has chosen these colours?
  • What do you think will happen next?

Scaring the birds

As above, invite the children to share their thoughts and use the supplementary prompts, if needed.

  • In this picture, the birds on the telegraph wires appear to be talking to each other. What do you imagine they might be saying?
  • Where are the frogs going?
  • What do you think might happen when they arrive?

Approaching the town

On this double-page spread, the frogs approach the town. You can see the white houses below them.

  • What might be happening inside the houses? Talk briefly about the sorts of things people might be doing at this time of night.
  • Where has David Wiesner positioned the reader? (Behind the frogs, on the same level. To the reader it looks as though we are flying along with the frogs).

11.21 pm

Describe what is happening on this page.

  • What do you think the man is thinking?
  • What sorts of things might be happening at 11.21 pm?

Caught on the washing line

Talk about what is happening on this page. Can you see the two frogs flying through the sheets like ghosts?

  • What has happened to the frog hanging from the washing line?
  • What do you think will happen next?

Superfrog

In this spread, we can see the use that the frogs make of the towel from the washing line.

  • How do they get into the house?
  • What might happen there?

Watching telly

Have fun as the children notice all the things the frogs are doing.

  • Why do you think a frog is hiding behind the chair?
  • One frog is choosing to look at a painting rather than watch television with the other frogs. Do you think they have different personalities?
  • The old lady is fast asleep, but have they been seen?
  • How can you tell that the television is on?
  • What type of programme do you think the frogs would like to watch?

4.38 am

  • Can you describe the frog’s thoughts in these three pictures?
  • Look carefully, how has David Wiesner drawn the picture to show that the frog stops suddenly? Can you explain how he has shown that?

Dog chasing

  • Can you tell what the dog is thinking/feeling in this picture?
  • What clues make you think that?

Daybreak

  • What time of day is it in this picture?
  • How can you tell?
  • What is happening?

Back to the pond

  • How do the frogs return home?
  • Do you think they are pleased to be back? Why? Why not?

On the news

You could use speech bubble sticky notes to add dialogue to this page. Alternatively if working in school, you could recreate a freeze-frame of this spread and bring parts of it to life so that children can improvise the dialogue.

  • Who are the people in this scene and what are they doing?
  • Why do you think there is an ambulance at the scene?
  • Do you think the police will solve the mystery? What explanation might they come up with for the night’s events?
  • Is there anything unusual about the clouds?
  • What do you think will happen next?

Next Tuesday, 7.58 pm

  • Can you think of any reasons that David Wiesner chose pigs as the next animal to have an adventure?
  • Have you heard of the idiom ‘pigs might fly’? What does it mean?
  • In pairs, or in a story circle, tell the story of what happens to the pigs on their adventure.
  • Would this story have been different if it was set in the daytime?

After reading

Wordless books

  • Tuesday is virtually wordless. Why do you think David Wiesner decided to tell his story this way?
  • Look at the few sentences in the book. Why do you think words and numbers are used here?
  • How would it affect the way we read the story if there were no words at all?

The title

  • Why do you think David Wiesner called this book Tuesday?
  • Can you think of an alternative title for the book?
  • Alternatively, cover the title of the book so that children cant read it and after reading ask them what they think the title might be. Reveal the title and discuss whether they are surprised.

Vocabulary

Create a word bank of words related to flying/flight. e.g. take-off, landing, dive, swoop, circle, float, skim, soar, glide, whizz, whoosh, hover etc.  Print the list of words or display them prominently. Give the children blank sticky notes and ask them to write flying words that fit the images in the book. They can refer to these words later in their writing.

Story writing

Once the children have had plenty of opportunities to explore the pictures and talk about what interests them, invite them to tell the story from the point of view of one of the frogs, using the pictures to help sequence the story. They can use their oral version as a basis for a written narrative.

News report

Write a news report either for a newspaper or for television news. Include eye witness statements.

Expert witness

Imagine you are an expert on the ‘Tuesday Evening Phenomenon’. A journalist has come to interview you. In pairs, improvise the interview. Share your ideas in a group. Which did you like best?

Crepuscular tones

Create a twilight palette of blues, greens and greys as David Wiesner has done. Paint a scene from the book, or your own scene set at this time of day. You might like to use the internet or other sources to find an image of John Singer Sargent’s ‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’ and talk about the way the artists has captured the twilight with white flowers and glowing lanterns.

Prize-winning books

Tuesday is an American book and it won the prestigious Caldecott medal for illustration. The UK prize for illustration is The Kate Greenaway Medal. Make a display of prize-winning illustration books from the UK and USA for the classroom. If working at home, see if you can find out the titles of other books that have won these awards. Do you recognise any of them?