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.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marvin wanted more

Front cover
Marvin wanted more! is Joseph Theobald's first picturebook. He's since written two more that feature Marvin. Marvin wanted more! was introduced to me by Claudia Richardson, an English Teacher in France.  It's a picturebook which Claudia chose to use to focus on environmental awareness and sure enough there are a couple of activities on the net related to environmental awareness which also recommend using Marvin wanted more!
Let's take a look at the picturebook: Marvin is introduced to us on the front cover as an excessively large sheep.   That happy, blue sky above swathing green fields is continued on the back cover, and is the back ground to the blurb, which reads, "Marvin is not a happy sheep. He is smaller than the other sheep, he can't run fast, nor can he jump as high (...)" ... is this super big sheep  on the front cover the hero of our story?  Open up, let's find out. 
End papers
The end papers are bright and colourful, a worm's eye view of  fields, and in the distance a sheep, a normal sized sheep.  I wonder if it's Marvin?  
Title page
We see him for sure on the title page, a normal sized sheep, sniffing at a flower. There's also a nice little dedication across the page, "To my family and the river gypsies", that'll get everyone thinking!  
Opening 1
Our first opening sets the scene, a field full of sheep, happily playing and munching, except for Marvin.  We see his sad face before we read the confirmation that he "was feeling rather gloomy."  His friend Molly is easy to find too, she's talking to him, and has a pink flower in her hair.  Kinda' cute!  Poor Marvin explains what's wrong, he's too small, he can't jump as high or run as fast as all the other sheep, it's terrible.  "But I like you just the way you are," said Molly.   Doesn't seem to make much difference, as Marvin really wants to be bigger. 
Opening 2
So that night, he began... he began to eat and eat and eat.  I like the salmon pink, evening sky and the long shadows.  Can you see Molly snoozing with the other sheep as Marvin munches?   Of course Marvin grew bigger and bigger, that  much bigger he jumped so high he didn't fit on the page. He could also run faster, but that wasn't enough. 
Opening 4
The bigger he got the more food he wanted.  He moved from grass to hedges.  Those sheep look worried don't they?  Then he got so big, he started eating trees. Molly tried to stop him, but he moved onto bigger things, can you imagine?
Opening 8
"He gobbled up mountains and drank whole lakes."  The sheep are terrified, running and swimming for their lives, but that didn't stop him, he wanted more.  He swallowed whole countries, he was so big now, he stood knee deep in the sea and munched whole continents.   That wasn't enough either ...
Opening 10
He ate the world.  And that was that.  There he is in opening 9, balancing on the moon, feeling quite full I should think.   He's over done it a bit, and of course, once he was there, on the moon, he realised that he was all alone.  "He missed the trees, and the meadow, and the other sheep, but most of all he missed Molly." That's when he began to feel sick. "BAAAAAA!"
Opening 12
Out it all came, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, The Statue of Liberty, a windmill,  The Taj Mahal, a football ... all sorts, even some sheep (Marvin, how could you?).  Children will love seeing all the different things he pukes up!
Opening 13
Marvin is feeling much better, though things aren't quite back to normal - the illustrations show us that things still need to be righted - and he's back with Molly and definitely feeling happier about himself! Silly Marvin! 
The back endpapers are the same as the front ones, their significance greater though - they emphasise Marvin's newly found contentment with life.  
It's a hilariously OTT story, and children love it, laughing out loud at the atrocities Marvin commits, but it does a nice job of showing us what envy and greed can do.  It also helps children see how important it is to be us, just the way we are.  So there's the moral and together with all the environmental awareness links you can include, if you want to, it's a good little book to have in any classroom library.  
Thanks to Claudia for bringing it to my attention. 


Medea said...

This looks lovely, and a great message to boot! I would love to hug one of those fluffy sheep.

I thought of you today when I read Up Up Down by Robert Munsch to my son's Japanese kindergarten class. They don't know any English but could follow along.

Sandie Mourão said...

Hi and thanks for commenting.
I don't know Up Up Down, is it a picturebook you'd recommend?
I was also fascinated by yr blog: http://perogiesandgyoza.blogspot.com/ (for those who read comments!). Good luck with yr 2012 challenge of reading to yr kids every day. Yes, Mum!
We should read to the children in our classrooms everyday too!