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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A pile of washing

I blogged about one of my favourite Jez Alborough books ages ago, Hug. This post is about another of his picturebooks, Washing line. It's a small book, nothing mega, except of course it's full of Alborough's humour and perfect for sharing while children are learning about clothes. 
Front cover
Here's the front cover showing a huge pair of spotty underpants hanging on a line, and a little white mouse scampering by. Not only does this present one of the characters in the story (the mouse) but also an important item of clothing in the storyline. Who could these underpants belong to? 
Copyright and title pages
There are no endpapers, but the copyright and title pages make up for this!  The copyright is written on a white sheet hanging on the line, and there's that white mouse again, this time undressed. The title page shows a basket of washing, ready to hang out, I suppose. These are all good things to return to having shown the picturebook to small children. 
Opening 1
The pages in this book aren't all the same size.  Can you make out the page break in the middle of the grass there? The elephant has found some very long socks on the washing line and is asking, "Whose are those socks hanging on the washing line?" Do you know? What animal has long legs? Turn the flap and you see a kinky flamingo in warm stripy socks! "They're mine", said the flamingo.
Opening 2
On each spread a bit of the next item of clothing can be seen, it rarely goes unnoticed by the children, certainly not during rereads. They love calling out what will come next. This time, both the elephant and the flamingo want to know "Whose is that jumper hanging on the washing line?"
Opening 3
"It's mine" grunted an orang-utan!  Of course with arms that long! You probably can't see the tiny yellow dress, but it's there in the top right hand corner. 
Opening 6
We discover this belongs to the mouse - can you see her on the pole? There's a hint on the front cover of course, where we saw her scampering over the boxer shorts, and children will comment on this during retells. That strange orange and blue striped thing is a scarf, '"Whose is that jumper hanging on the washing line?" asked the elephant, the flamingo, the urang-utan and the mouse'. Children call out "a snake", but they're wrong!
Opening 8
It's a giraffe's scarf of course! As we've turned each page the animals enquiring about the hanging clothes get greater in number, and we have to remember the order in which they appeared - this is a very subtle maths related activity and one of the many reasons that these kinds of picturebooks are so useful for small children - remember we are never 'just' teaching English!
Opening 9
But look! What an enormous pair of boxers. "Whose are those underpants hanging on the washing line?" asked the flamingo, the orang-utan, the mouse and the giraffe (have you noticed the elephant has gone?)
Opening 10
Turn the flap and oooo! It's the elephant!  "They're mine of course!"  He does have a big bottom! 
But then all the animals wonder what to do next, afterall they are wearing their dry clothes. But elephant has an idea. We can see a bit of his idea to the right of the illustration ... can you guess?
Opening 13
Arghhh!  "LET'S GET THEM WET AGAIN!" Cool idea Mr elephant, and the children chortle with delight! But that's not the end of the story for if we turn the page again, we see all the clothes hanging on the line, dripping of course! 
Opening 14
Can you remember who wears what? The children can and it's a great way to help them remember and make connections. There's a bright sun shining on the clothes so they'll dry nice and quick and this is something to talk about with the children too. 
What a simply lovely picturebook. So easy, nice and repetitive and with a wonderful twist at the end. Great for a clothes related topic, but also very useful for helping children sequence and match, suitable early maths concepts. And if you don't follow the sharing of this story by setting up a washing line in your classroom, shame on you!

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