Monthly Archives: August 2015

Picture Book Review- Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

Exclamation Mark TITLE: Exclamation Mark
Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
 PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press
Duck! Rabbit!              Wumbers
Yes Day!                       The OK Book
SYNOPSIS:  A story about the
exclamation mark & his journey
to fit in & find his life

Exclamation Mark (Book Depository affiliate link)
Picture-Book-Review-Exclamation-Mark RATING:  A
Thumbs up for the clever &
creative way the picture book
teaches the reader about
the purpose of punctuation marks.
All grammar & punctuation school
curriculum could do
with Amy & Tom’s touch.

Brownie points also for the smooth
& balanced collaboration
between illustrations & story.
The book cover design is very simplistic with a bright cheery yellow backdrop and the main character, the exclamation mark positioned in the centre, equally cheery in expression. I like how Amy and Tom have cleverly excluded the title and allowed the illustration of the exclamation mark to speak for itself.

As I have mentioned in previous picture book reviews, often a minimalist design with restricted bold colours is the best design for book covers. It can have the greatest impact. There is no confusion on what the reader should be focusing on. From a marketing point of view, when the book cover is decreased down to a thumbnail size for advertising, a minimalist design normally always stand out over other more detailed designs.

There is no design on the end pages. They are instead dark cherry red in colour.
Before the back end pages, there is however a dedication double spread page that is quite amusing. Besides the normal dedication by the authors, in the bottom right corner look out for an amusing dedication by the two main characters of the book.

Amy and Tom continue the minimalist design throughout the book. The story unfolds on backdrops of lined paper, similar to what you use in early grade school to practice your printing and alphabet letters on. The sole focus of the illustrations is on the characters and nothing else.

The characters include the exclamation mark,  a whole bunch of period punctuations and the question mark. They are created in think black ink lines and in a few quick lines and squiggles. They each have their own really expressive faces full of emotions and personality. I really enjoy the skill Amy and Tom have with paring back illustrations to virtually stick figure form. This style shows that it is possible to tell any story this way and that it can still look sophisticated with well thought out compositions and format.

What a playful writing style with lots of puns throughout the story. I love the duo meaning behind the story in that not only provides a fun way to learn about punctuation and its function but it also has a deeper message about feeling different. not belonging and finding your identity in life.

There is a great collaboration between the illustrations and the writing with often the illustrations being included within the middle of the writing, to tell the story. As the exclamation mark begins to understand his purpose and identity, the font changes in size and also colour.  There is a whole double spread where the exclamation mark fills the two pages with his excited rainbow coloured statements. What a clever technique. Isn’t it so true, that once you realise your purpose and meaning in life, the whole world changes and brightens up with all the possibilities.

Amy lives in the virtual world here

Tom lives in the virtual world here

When you have finished visiting Amy and Tom in their virtual worlds, how about listening to a great podcast interview with Amy on Matthew Winner’s  ‘Let’s Get Busy Podcast’