Picturebooks in ELT

Passionate about picturebooks

Welcome to my blog about picturebooks in ELT.

“A picturebook is text, illustrations, total design; an item of manufacture and a commercial product; a social, cultural, historic document; and foremost, an experience for a child. As an art form it hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning page.” (Barbara Bader 1976:1)

My intention is to discuss picturebooks, in particular the pictures in them! Why? Because, in ELT we tend to select picturebooks because they contain words our students might know. I plan to write something a couple of times a month, sharing what I discover in my readings; describe new titles I come across; discuss particular illustrators and their styles and generally promote the picture in picturebooks.

From January 2008 to December 2011 I benefitted from a PhD research grant from FCT, in Portugal.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Petr Horácek and pre-school books: part 1

Screen shot from Petr Horácek's website 
I'm going to talk about  Petr Horácek in all my December posts.  I've been using his books with my pre-school children since 2003.  He has a very characteristic style, using bright colours and bold shapes, which are perfect for the under 5's.  His vibrant backgrounds painted with visible brush work or spoldgy splashes of water-colour incorporate a technique we often see in early years classrooms, which is water colour paint over wax crayon.  His first books, mostly board books, do this very simply, but effectively.
In What is black and white? you can see his blackbird is outlined in blue wax crayon, a great contrast to the bright yellow background, but also evoking the blue hints one gets when something is really shiny and black (I have a black Labrador, who shines blue in the sun!) 
Here's his black cat, with the outline and features in wax crayon.  I love her nose and bottom in light pink!  
And what is white, can you guess? The children are good at guessing and usually get snow and milk, but not goose, a bird which appears regularly in his work. 
In Strawberries are red he uses different shades  of the same colour to create the outlines of the piles of fruit.  
Here are his blueberries, a dark blue against a light blue background. They really do look good enough to eat don't they?   In Portugal blueberries aren't found in the wild, so we think about other fruit which can be blue.  They have some very blue coloured plums and even very dark grapes have a blue tinge. 
In both these books you can see that the pages are different widths; they're cut into shapes, and get gradually narrower, culminating in the creation of a superimposed double spread. 
In What is black and white?, the black and white pages come together to create the zebra's stripes, and  in Strawberries are red all the fruits come together to make a bowl of fruit salad.  Children love this surprise, and they want the story again and again, so that they can see that magical ending, and only on retells do they actually notice the pages are getting narrower! 
In their simplicity these books actually provide children with lots to look and think about.  The creation of different hues of colour, the wax crayon and water colour technique and the montage effect. In one of my classes children made a black and white book of their own.  And many a class have had fun making fruit salad after seeing Strawberries are red, and they love talking about the fruit they put in it, describing the colours and saying if the fruit is sweet or sour. 
There's a whole collection of board books so check out Petr's website and have a look. 
And also take  a peek at his gallery.  His work as an artist is interesting.  
Part 2, my next post, is about his recurring goose.  


Luciano said...

Hi Sandie,

Talking about colours, have you read this book? http://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Colors-Menena-Cottin/dp/0888998732/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Sandie Mourão said...

Hi Luciano,
The black book of colours is a wonderful picturebook. I only have the Spanish version, hence the reason I haven't put it on my blog.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the picturebook Luciano has mentioned, it's a book written to help readers understand what it's like to be blind: "Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way."
It is truely special, though I've not used it in my classes, it has great potential. I must get the English version. Thanks Luciano!