The Missing Fromage Mystery

play by Darcy-Lee Tindale , illustrated by Peter Sheehan

Learning intentions:

I am learning to identify, describe and discuss an illustrator’s techniques so that I can evaluate characteristics that define an illustrator’s style.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify visual techniques used by an illustrator.
  • I can compare techniques used in different illustrations by the same illustrator.
  • I can define an illustrator’s techniques using visual metalanguage.


Essential knowledge:

  • Information about visual techniques can be found on the Victorian Department of Education’s website Visual Literacy.
  • Visual metalanguage with examples can be found on Visual Techniques.


After reading the play, ask students to examine the illustrations and describe to a partner what they see. Select some students to share their answers with the class. Sample answers may include the fact it is a cartoon, it contains three characters all facing different directions, it is set on a stage, it has the colours of the French flag.

Have students examine the first illustration in more detail.

What is its purpose?

What is it about?

What do you think about it? Why?

What does it remind you of?

What connections can you make to other texts and experiences?

Why has the image-maker chosen to show this image this way? How else might this be shown? What difference might this make? (A point of discussion could be the fact Sheehan has chosen to illustrate the stage play rather than the story.)


Ask students to discuss gaze, salience, symbol, texture, framing and colour (you can use the Visual Techniques page to display examples). Answers will vary, but students might note:

- the use of the French flag as the background (both as a symbol and salient image)

- the fact that the taxi driver is gazing straight at the viewer while the two characters on either side are looking at each other

- there is a grainy texture to the illustration

- the chairs match the colours of the flag

- the picture is framed in a way that is similar to an audience’s perspective of the play


View Peter Sheehan’s webpage with illustrations for The School Magazine. This can either be displayed on a smartboard or on individual devices. In pairs, students match components of the illustrations on the webpage with components of the illustrations for The Missing Fromage Mystery. For example, illustration 36/93 (boy about to kick a football) uses red and white like the colouring of the French flag, while illustration 33/93 (little footballer running away from a much larger opponent) positions the viewer directly in front of the subject’s gaze like the framing of the stage play. Students can use a table or take notes for their discoveries. Encourage them to zoom in on the illustrations and be creative with their answers. They can use all three illustrations from The Missing Fromage Mystery as comparison points. More sample answers are below, though individual students may make different connections.


Salience – 49/93 (town beyond the water) salient image is in the background rather than the foreground, like the flag is the salient image in the stage play.

Symbol/Colour – 48/93 (characters chatting while watering a garden) girl is wearing same colours as the national flag of Afghanistan, like the use of the French flag in the stage play.

Texture – 46/93 (character spraying monster with hose) same grainy texture technique


Once complete, students compare answers as a class.