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, August 18, 2011

My oh my, Tiny Little Fly!

Front and back covers of Tiny Little Fly
Tiny Little Fly is written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Kevin Waldron. Rosen is famous for his rhymes and poems, and true to form this large-sized treasure is in rhyme.   Kevin Waldron is yet another award winning Irish illustrator, (see posts about Oliver JeffersChris Haughton and Niamh Sharkey).  Together they make a great team, though it is unlikely they ever actually met!  The illustrations are stunning and the extra large format, with a spectacular pull out quadruple page, are real child pleasers! 
As you can see from the main image above, the front and back covers are part of one large illustration.  It represents one of the visual sequences to be found inside, though the actual illustration is unique to the covers.  The largeness of the tiger is accentuated by the fact that parts of him don't fit the cover and he contrasts brilliantly with the tiny fly who we notice as we following the tiger's one-eyed gaze.  
Inside of front cover and half title page
As ever I have the paperback edition, but the inside of the front cover has a lovely old fashioned wallpaper look to it.  This printed patterned look is subtly repeated through the book, and you can see two of the flowers on the half title page, below the fly, who seems to have appeared from nowhere! 
Copyright and title page
... and there's no stopping him, look at how the fly zooms across the copyright page and is ready to fly into the book. I like the way we are told the words are by Rosen and the illustrations are by Waldron. Take  a peek at the dedications, on the copyright page:  Can you guess why there are three elephants on MR's dedication? 
Opening 1
There's no stopping that fly, as we begin with Rosen's rhyme.  "My oh my, Tiny Little Fly! Tiny Little Fly sees great big toes...".  Typical of an unfinished sentence and half an illustration we all want to TURN THE PAGE! So we do!
Opening 2
Ohhh, that is an annoying fly, he buzzes all over and "... sits on Elephant's nose."  
Opening 3
"Great Big Elephant winks one eye, says to himself, "I'm going to catch that fly!" 
Opening 4
"Great Big Elephant winks the other eye. TRAMP! CRUSH! TRAMP! But off flies fly!" ... and we can just see the tiny fly zzing off towards the right edge of the recto page. 
And this sequence repeats itself two more times. Fly meets a hippo, grey with delightful pinky markings. We are treated to the lovely repetitive rhyme, with fly settling on Hippo's ear.  Then ... "Great Big Hippo winks the other eye. ROLL! SQUASH! ROLL! But off flies fly!" Cool  image of Hippo in the mud ...
Opening 8
Next fly meets a tiger, that lovely big orange one we saw on the front cover. Fly settles on his claws, though we actually only see paws. Same repetitive rhyme and ... "Great Big Tiger winks the other eye. SWOOP! SNATCH! SWOOP!  But off flies fly!"
And now things take a turn for the theatrical.  All three animals thrash around... 
Opening 13
TRAMP! CRUSH! TRAMP!ROLL! SQUASH! ROLL! SWOOP! SNATCH! SWOOP! Great sounds, which children will love saying ... and then, open out those flaps and  ...
Opening 14
All three animals are floundering in the dust and mud.  That pesky fly has got the better of them!  Fold those big flaps back in, and turn the page. Fly is off, leaving the dusty trio behind him. "Tiny Little Fly, winks one eye ..."
Back recto and inside back cover
"See you all soon. Bye everyone, bye!"  And there he is winking his very large fly eye!  Wallpaper flowers have returned, and if you look closely at the inside back cover, can you see the fly on the wall? He, he, he!

Great picturebook!  And Kevin Waldron's illustrations are just fabulous. Big and bright and very enticing.  Pre-school children will love them, and so will early primary.  The repetitive  rhyming text will have the whole class chorusing along with you in no time.  

If you go to Waldron's  web site and scroll down to his January 2011 post, you can see just how big the book is, as well as see some of his sketches and ideas.  Hippos are my favourite of animals, (after dogs), so I love this little number ...
From www.kevinwaldron.co.uk

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