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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Look at the endpapers - repost

I did something very silly - I deleted some of the images in my Picasa album - and it played hells bells with my early blog posts.  I am recreating those which were well visited.  This is the first of these recreations. 

Look at the endpapers (Originally posted in July 21, 2010)
Endpapers from The very hungry caterpillar (Carle)
Endpapers are part of the picturebook peritext (another post I ruined, but will be replacing in time). I thought I'd take a closer look at the different endpapers we might find in some of the more widely used picturebooks in ELT.
Endpapers from Winnie the witch (Thomas and Paul)
There are endpapers that are left blank, in white or cream. Sometimes endpapers echo a colour that belongs to a book. Winnie the Witch, by Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul has black endpapers (naturally!) with striking slashes of colour... which we can associate with Winnie's magic wand once we've read the story. 
Endpapers can hint at aspects of the story, like the wand slashes by Winnie. The end papers from The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle are at the top of this message. Did you recognise them? Ripped paper, full of holes. I wonder if it was the caterpillar? 
Endpapers from Brown bear, brown bear what do you see? (Martin Jr and Carle) 
Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle has strips of coloured tissue paper in the sequence of the animals as they appear in the story. Can you see Carle's signature? We put our signatures on works of art, what is Eric Carle telling us? Interestingly in the hard back edition, the endpapers have no signature, but instead a red bird. 
Endpapers from The Gruffalo (Donaldson and  Scheffler)
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1999. The endpapers show us a quiet green wood, waiting for something to happen!  My anniversary edition has two sets of endpapers.  The second set has the sketches for early versions of the characters by Axel Scheffler,  lovely!
Additional endpapers in the anniversary edition (front illustrations)
Room on the Broom by the same authors, has endpapers showing us the four items belonging to the witch which appear in the beginning of the story and are lost / broken, as the narrative progresses.   
Endpapers from Room on the broom (Donaldson and Scheffler)
They're also in sequential order, with a dark storm brewing, introducing us to aspects of the narrative again.  
Endpapers from Is it because? (Ross)
Is it because? By Tony Ross is a part of a set of materials from the British Council Learn English website. The endpapers are covered in question marks, reinforcing the question the narrator is asking. 
All these examples show us endpapers which are the same at the back and the front. But there are end papers which are not the same. We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury has two different endpaper sets. The front ones show us an empty sea shore, possibly early morning, before we set off for our bear hunt. The back endpapers show us a dark sky at the same beach, with the bear walking away from us.  Dejected and unwanted, poor bear.
Front endpapers from We're going on a bear hunt (Rosen and Oxenbury)
Back endpapers from We're going on a bear hunt (Rosen and Oxenbury)
Down by the cool of the pool  by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees also has two different endpaper sets.  The front depict a cool bluey pink watery scene, the pool.  Possibly reflecting the pink sky as the sun rises in the morning. The back ones are a delicious orangey yellow, the sun is shining right into the pool.
Front endpapers from Down by the cool of the pool  (Mitton and Parker-Rees)
Back endpapers from Down by the cool of the pool  (Mitton and Parker-Rees)
Handa’s surprise by Aileen Browne has a wavey line of delicately drawn fruit from the story on the front endpapers, and the back ones show us the animals who appeared in the story. There's a sequential order to both sets.
Front endpapers from Handa's surprise (Browne)
Back endpapers from Handa's surprise (Browne)
Suddenly! by Colin McNaughton has front endpapers which confirm, 'where there's a pig, there's a wolf!'  For this is what our story is about, a  wolf  following an unsuspecting pig.

Front endpapers from Suddenly! (McNaughton)
But as in all "Tom and Jerry" like comedy, the poor wolf never manages, and the back endpapers are a second ending, with the wolf being taken to hospital!
Back endpapers from Suddenly! (McNaughton)
Many endpapers can surprise us by extending the story and giving us more.  One of my favourite picture books, is Say Hello! by Jack and Michael Foreman.  The blurb on the back of the books says: "When someone's looking lonely and in need of a friend, there's one little word that can help…" The front endpapers are a cool blue, and blue line is used throughout the book, defining places and backgrounds. A little boy watches a group of other childen playing and it is a friendly dog who makes the first move to invite him to play.  A double spread of children watching as the dog jumps up and licks the boy is accompanied by "No need to be the lonely one.  When someone's feeling left out, low, it doesn't take much to say …" Turn the page and the book ends with the children calling out a huge group "Hello!
Back endpapers from Say Hello! (Foreman & Foreman)
The back endpapers show us how we can say 'Hello' in lots of languages, black pencil line font, on the same cool blue background.  Truly spectacular.

Endpapers are amazing things, don't ever forget to pay them the attention they deserve. Go back to them after you've read the picture book and talk about them with the children. If they are there, they're definitely worth looking at.   

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