Critical analysis of children literature.


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Critical analysis of children literature.

  1. 1. Critical analysis of children literature 2011 Have we ever pondered as to why we need picture books? Why are they soimportant? I believe that picture book is regarded pivotal in engaging readers tomake meaning of their reading through the text and the illustration in the book.According to Winch, G & (2006), picture book acts as a rich medium whichgenerates imaginative engagement of the readers through the ways the words andpictures are presented, perceived, organized, and assimilated. The book that I haveread entitled “Is it time to get up yet?” capitulates the above features. This book iswritten and illustrated by Bob Darroch who started writing books for children in 1999.The story revolved around a young boy, probably the age of four, who woke up atfive in the afternoon and was unsure whether he should wake up or not. The bookallows the reader to follow the activities the boy did and immerse themselves in hisinteresting and intriguing imagination. Therefore, in this literature analysis, I willtouch on the writer and illustrator‟s craft focusing on the style of writing and theillustration, the underlying assumptions of equity aspect and finally, my personalthoughts and feelings about this picture book. Firstly, I will begin by analyzing the writer and illustrator‟s craft by focusing onthe style of writing. Glazer and Giorgis (2005) believe that the style of writing helpsto create mood in the story based on the selection of words and how they arearranged. In the front cover of the book, Darroch chose to use big bold blue lettersfor the title of the book. However, in the first page of the book, he chose a bright boldyellow colour for his title. In my opinion, the he does so to communicate to hisreaders through colours. Hewlett- Packard advocated that blue colour gives acalming effect whereas yellow denotes playfulness and action ( as cited in Gangwer,2009). Therefore, based on the different colour denotation of the text, the readers‟were given a clue that the story is not as it seems. True enough, the story is told inthe boy‟s point of view where the readers know what the boy does in his room and atthe same time know what he thinks. In addition, in the story, Darroch uses twodifferent font sizes. He uses a slightly smaller font on the upper left side of the pageto narrate the boy‟s imagination and right under it, the text is written in bigger fontwhich gives a picture to the readers that it is in reality. This is definitely a differentstyle of writing which can grab the readers‟ attention. Besides that, he also used aParvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 1
  2. 2. Critical analysis of children literature 2011number of exclamation marks in the story. For example; Mum! There’s a blowfly inmy room! Here, Darroch wanted the readers to connect to the emotion of thecharacter. The exclamation mark in the above sentence shows us that the characterwas shouting for his mum as he was afraid of the blowfly. This view is supported byTrask (1997) in an article “The Exclamation Mark” where he explains thatexclamation marks are used to show very strong feelings as well as to show that astatement is surprising. With this, I can say that Darroch had successfully capturedthe character‟s emotion through his writing style. The writer also used a variety ofsyntax throughout the book. The usage of simple and compound sentences areevident in the text. Booth and Barton (2000) advocated that new and varied syntacticpatterns allow the children to be engaged in experiencing language which are morecomplex than their own. For example the usage of a more complex version of simplesentence such as „ Teddy and Lulubelle and I can live in here away from the rain andthe snow‟ allows young readers to know the different ways of how language is used.The Ministry of Education of New Zealand (2003) also supports that rich text shouldhave a varied sentence structure that motivate and challenge the readers. From myanalysis on Darroch‟s picture book, I realized that humor is evident in the text as wellas in the illustration. Below is an example taken from the picture book; “ This is my farm. With sheep and cows and pigs and elephants.”From the text we could immediately see the humor the writer had portrayed. Surely,we do not rear elephants in a farm. I have the opinion that Darroch tried to engagethe readers in such that the readers could relate to the character‟s wild imaginationand take part in it. This would indirectly make the readers enjoy reading this story.My view is supported by Zbaracki (2003) where in his research he found that humorin text highly engaged the children as it appealed to them in term of suspense andthe use of language for humorous effect. The second point that I would like to discuss is the illustration of this picturebook. In this book, the illustration plays a vital role in emphasizing the meaning of thetext or the story. Booth and Barton (2000) believe that words and picture worktogether where pictures draw the eye and the text catches the imagination of readers.In this book, Darroch had illustrated based on the written text. When the text isParvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 2
  3. 3. Critical analysis of children literature 2011referring to a farm, „This is my farm. With sheep and cows and pigs and elephants‟,the visual which is spread to two pages, showed exactly what the text said as wecould see drawings of sheep, cows, pigs and even elephants in a farm. This ensuresthat the readers would be able to make meaning from the text although they are notfamiliar with some of the vocabularies. Thus, allowing them to enjoy the story.Moreover, the illustrations are elaborate and detailed. For example, to depict thescenery of a farm, the illustrator drew a packed farm with animals such as cows,chickens ducks, pigs, goat and horse. I think the illustrator drew an elaborate farmwith animals that are not mentioned in the text because he wanted the readers toexpand their knowledge and have a broader view about a farm. Indirectly, thereaders can increase their knowledge. However, I realized that the illustrator tend todraw things that are not related in certain context. For example, he drew a pinkoctopus in a farm which does not apply to real life. The only reason that I could comeup with is that the illustrator did so to prompt readers to think critically and activelyparticipate in reading by questioning the pictures. Saxby (1997) advocates thatpicture books play an active role as readers are expected to participate in the life andactivity of the book. One aspect of the illustration that attracted me the most is theway the illustrator merged the reality with imagination or fantasy. The boy‟s room,which is the reality, is drawn at the bottom left of the page while his imagination isdrawn in a bigger scale, stretching across two pages. Glazer and Giorgis (2009)argues that illustrations that combine realism with fantasy when the text does notmake comprehension of the story difficult. Fortunately, Darroch intelligentlycombines the visual; realism and fantasy with the text. Therefore, readers would notfind it difficult to understand the story. Here, I personally believe that the illustratormerged fantasy and reality in a page as he wanted the readers to see what thecharacter is doing in his room and also know what in running in his mind. Now, we will look at the underlying assumption of equity issues that areevident in this picture book. Equity issues in terms of gender and culture are notdirectly discussed in this book but these issues are covertly expressed. Glazer andGiorgis (2009) said that stereotyping indicates poor writing and are intellectually andsocially offensive. Based on my analysis on this picture book, I found that Darrochdid not stereotype gender. Although the story is written from a small boy‟s point ofParvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 3
  4. 4. Critical analysis of children literature 2011view, the text and illustrations are suitable for both genders. The boy‟s imaginativefarm and his made-up journey to visit his grandma cater to both genders as they areable to relate to this situation because it depicts their real life. In addition, theillustrator drew images of people; man, women, child which further strengthened myperception that this writer practices an equal preference towards both gender.Besides that, the writer also expressed his view on culture overtly through his textand illustrations. The writer cleverly includes two different socio-economicbackgrounds which are the farm which portrays a rural setting and the town whichthe character‟s grandma lives for an urban setting. This caters to readers that comefrom different socio-economic background so as to allow the readers to connectthemselves to the story. In addition, visual imagery such as hills, sheep and a kiwibird gives the reader a context which they are familiar with. Therefore, readers fromNew Zealand and those who are exposed to New Zealand culture would be able torelate this story to their life. This view is supported by Lissa Paul who believes that inorder for successful reading to take place, readers must be able to focus on whathappens to them and to register the ideas, feelings and attitude that they experiencewhile reading. Therefore, it is undeniable that readers comprehend the story better ifthey could relate to their daily life. Finally, I will discuss on what my opinions are regarding this picturebook. First and foremost, I find this book interesting and captivating in terms of thevisuals which I think they are suitable for young readers. The vibrant colours used forthe visuals are appropriate with the text or storyline as it centers on imagination. Thecolourful images will attract the reader‟s attention. Green (1984) found thatresearchers believe colour visuals increase willingness to read, motivation andparticipation by up to 80% ( as citied in Gangwer, 2009). Moreover, the peculiardetails added in the book enables the readers to generate questions, thus, engagingthem to read actively. Even as an adult reader, I find the visuals intriguing as I kepton thinking the reason as to why the illustrator drew objects that does not fit to thesetting of the story. Nevertheless, I find this particular feature is useful because asteachers, we can use this book to engage student in active reading. All in all, Ibelieve that young reader will find this book captivating as I do.Parvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 4
  5. 5. Critical analysis of children literature 2011 Succinctly, based on my analysis, the combination of written text and visualimagery in this book plays a pivotal role in helping the readers to make meaning outof the text. Besides that, relating the context to the readers‟ life will further enhancetheir understanding of the text, thus, enabling them to appreciate literature as awhole.Parvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 5
  6. 6. Critical analysis of children literature 2011 References.Booth, D. & Barton, B. (2000). Story works: How teacher can use shared stories in the new curriculum. Ontario, Canada: Pembroke PublishersDarroch, B. (2000). Is it time to get up yet?. Birkenhead, Auckland: Reed PublishingGangwer, T. (2009). Visual impact, visual teaching: Using images to strengthen learning. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin PressGlazer, J. I. & Giorgis, C. (2009). Literature for young children: Supporting emergent literacy, Ages 0-8. ( 6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.New Zealand Ministry of Education. (2003). Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.Saxby, M. (1997). Books in the life of a child. South Yarra, Australia: Macmillan PublishersTrask, L. (1997). The exclamation mark. Retrieved on April 12, 2011 from lWinch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2006). Literacy (3rd ed.). Melbourne. Oxford University PressZbaracki, M. D. (2003). Descriptive of how humor in literature serves to engage children in their reading. Retrieved on April 12, 2011 from Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 6
  7. 7. Critical analysis of children literature 2011Parvani Sivalingam, University of Otago Page 7