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ESH151 Quality Children's Literature
Transcript of ESH151 Quality Children's Literature
Assessment Task 2
Module 2 - The very cranky bear (Bland, 2008)
The very cranky bear (Bland 2008) is an uplifting and thought provoking story that uses language full of opportunities that grab a child’s attention to stretch their vocabulary and language skills. The vocabulary is rich and varied which as children learn language, gather a store of words to express, communicate and interpret feelings (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010). The inclusion of rhyme and repetition teach children to first learn to recognise, and then produce words that end or begin the same way (University of Virginia, 2010). Alliteration is also used to great effect, an example that illustrates this is “In the jingle jangle jungle.” Alliteration which according to Winch et al., (2010) assists children to develop phonemic awareness which is particularly important in early years in gaining spelling skills. The language features used by Bland (2008) makes it easy for children to follow. The story uses descriptive words like “marvellous antlers”, “golden mane” and “fantastic stripes” (Bland, 2008, p.1) which impact reader’s comprehension keeping them engaged.
The illustrations in The very cranky bear (Bland, 2008) suit the fast-paced and comic nature of the tale. They are illustrated beautifully in bold colours and the pictures of the animals are detailed and comical. Choice of colour in illustrations adds a depth to the story and evokes emotion in the reader (Bonomo et al., 2010). Captivating close-ups of facial expressions and features highlights feelings and mood, allowing students to connect and relate to the characters individual personalities. Framing has been utilised to show power between the bear and the other characters. The addition of comparison is a great inclusion in the story allowing readers to interpret the contrast between small and large objects. A powerful example of comparison is the contrast between the bear, and the sheep, when the bear is roaring over the sheep’s head. This inclusion heightens the sense of vulnerability during sheep’s quest to help make bear happy (Winch et al., 2010). The visual elements and written text complement each other, allowing a wide audience to thoroughly enjoy this children’s book on many different levels.
The Very Cranky Bear (Bland, 2008) deals with issues like problem solving, negotiation, thinking outside the box, empathy, patience and most importantly caring for others. These traits are showcased through the character of the sheep. Bland (2008) effectively displays these traits, that are stereotypically seen as important for children to identify and practice. The message about not making assumptions or judgements about people you don’t know, not assuming that everyone should conform to your own standards, and getting across the idea that what makes people happy, is different for everyone. Incorporating a subliminal message is a powerful way to address these issues of prejudice and acceptance and the character of the sheep demonstrates that it is ok to go against the majority to ultimately make everyone happy. The story effectively uses humour to showcase these powerful themes making it ideal to use in the classroom. By using this story critically in the classroom allows children to analyse explicit messages, and to learn to examine and begin talking about stereotypes present in picture books more generally (Menezes De Souza, 2007).
Module 4 - Memorial (Crew, 1999)
Module 3 - Just a dog (Bauer, 2010)
The front-cover of Just a dog (Bauer, 2010) shows an image of a dog representing Mr Mosely. This is confirmed by the physical description given of him found on page 19. On the front of Mr Mosely’s chest is a heart shaped marking, which is merely a representation of the love he possesses for the Ingram family. This visual symbol is a powerful way to express a hidden message, which signifies something more than words can’t express alone (Stafford, 2010).
Shaun Tans illustrations are powerful, emotional, full of texture and detail. He creates wonderful collages that carry a message to enrich and extend the text, taking each reader on a journey of discovery. The use of various materials in fragmentary pieces is used to great effect emulating the ‘texture’ of memory. The page layouts are not continuous as they shift from one environment and mood to the next in an attempt to make the book feel like a memory rather that an experience. Tan removes text altogether from certain pages throughout the book to allow the illustrations to tell a story without narrative. He utilises colour and shading masterfully which is captivating and used to evoke an emotional response in his reader (Stafford, 2010). Different lighting techniques, is also used throughout the story which encapsulates the rendering and texture in the illustrations creating a more realistic memory for the reader (Bonomo et al., 2010). Tans’ illustration found on the last page reminds readers, the importance of seeding memories for future generations.
Audio reading of The very cranky bear (Bland, 2008)
Mister Mosely may be a dog, but he is not just a dog. He is a member of the Ingram family, and often the only one that each family member can relate to. He is a pillar of hope, friendship and strength.10 year old Corey narrates the story through journal entries in a first person chronicle which according to (Winch et al., 2010) allows children relate to stories through their imaginations when the main characters are of a similar age. Colloquial language like “reckon” and “sook” are used to great effect which creates a natural and realistic effect of the characters and provide the illusion that Corey is communicating directly with the reader. Each chapter is engaging and stands out on its own as an anecdotal vignette comprising of entries, each about Mister Mosely. Through these recollections the reader comes to the realisation that this is Corey’s healing process. The storyline focuses on everyday situations allowing children to connect and emphasise, creating a deeper understanding of the storyline (Giorgis et al., 1999). A dog is never, ‘Just a dog’.
The very cranky bear (Bland, 2008) is a fantastic story to use in the classroom environment. The use of rhyme makes it an ideal literacy inclusion in assisting the development of phonemic awareness (Winch et al., 2010). According to the Australian Curriculum content descriptor (ACELT1592) students in year 2 will be able to identify, reproduce and experiment with rhythmic, sound and word patterns in poems, chants, rhymes and songs (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d). In this activity students will be read the story aloud. During the reading students will be asked to identify the rhyming words within the story along with a discussion about rhyming words. Students will then be given the opportunity to go back to their desks and in their English workbook create a sentence that incorporates two rhyming words of their choice. This activity will allow students to focus on using phonics to spell words, understand vocabulary and construct their own rhyming sentence to ultimately be able to learn phonetic relationships between rhyming words.
Memorial (Crew, 1999) is a short picture book, but one with an emotional impact tapped by both the author and illustrator. Spoken through the memories of a young boy tells this story of a Moreton Bay Fig tree planted as a memorial to Australians soldiers killed in war, which is scheduled to be cut down by the council. The inclusion of a personal voice allows children to make text-to-self connections allowing them to explore the meaning, language features and vocabulary of the text (Campbell & Green, 2006). Crews (1999) deliberate choice of vocabulary assists the reader to empathise with the characters in their battle to save the tree. It is also designed to attract the reader’s attention keeping them engaged. The use of adjectives for example ‘chopped’ and ‘grizzled’ enhance the descriptions of the language used within the story making the narrative more interesting (Winch et al., 2010) which allows readers to create a deeper understanding of the storyline (Giorgis et al., 1999).
Memorial (Crew, 1999) provides many opportunities to deconstruct the text and analyse how both the author and illustrator has represented perspective, culture, history and complex illustrations to evoke a sense of empathy. One example that illustrates how empathy is expressed is Tans use of fragmented illustrations that appear worn out and faded along with the words “We got chopped to bits at Ypres’, he says. ‘But…’ and he shrugs and he sniffs and he wipes his watery eyes and his grizzled cheeks” (Crew, 1999, p. 3). This example enables children to think about the feelings of memories that may be evoked (Winch et al., 2010) and to extrapolate the discussion to memories from their own lives and the lives of those around them. Crew focuses on family connections and memories. While the story appears to be about war memorials and remembrance both Crew (1999) and Tan focus on memories that make up ordinary day-to-day lives, emphasising on memory itself. Through tactful writing Crew (1999) persuades the reader to believe that the council is an enemy as the young boy decides to fight the council to save the tree and extract from the story is, ‘They’ll beat you son,’ ‘The big boys will beat you every time. They’ll chop you to bits…’ ” (p. 24).
Memorial (Crew, 1999) is a great story to use in the classroom at the primary school and secondary level. It will engage the reader and involve them in a wide range of learning opportunities. After reading the story students will participate in a drama activity in the form of a live debate. Students will be split up into groups. Two students will act as the opening speakers; the rest of the class will be divided into two groups. The ‘against’ group will be the council wanting to cut down the fig tree, the ‘for’ group, will be represented by the community wanting to save the tree. Students will debate the question, ‘Should we authorise for the tree to be cut down?’ Students will need to research information that will allow them to argue their case. This will allow them to use their thinking and critical literacy skills whether they are on the ‘for’ or ‘against’ team. Students will rehearse and then perform the debate to another class in accordance with the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2012).
There are many opportunities to use this book in the classroom. Students in year 3 will be read the first 6 chapters in class over the course of a few days stopping for discussions about Mr Mosley and the Ingram family. In conjunction with the Australian Curriculum content descriptor, draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others (ACELT1596) (ACARA, n.d) students will be asked to draw their impression of Mister Mosely for a classroom display. Chapter 7 will then be read to the students where the description of Mr Mosely is portrayed by the author. The class will compare their drawings to the physical description given of Mr Mosley and discuss the similarities and differences with their classmate who sits next to them. Are the drawings the same? This activity would meet the curriculum outcome of discuss texts in which characters, events and settings are portrayed in different ways, and speculate on the authors’ reasons (ACELT1594) (ACARA, n.d.). This is a good opportunity to get students to think about the different contexts readers have and how these affect understanding.
Bauer (2010) has provided many opportunities to deconstruct and analyse this story critically with the inclusion of challenging themes like stranger danger and death. They allow for rich discussions about why he has included these issues in the story. It enables children to question these themes and to challenge ideologies, why has the author included these themes, why didn’t he choose the daughter to be the narrator and where does this position the them as a reader.