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

We all go traveling by


Front cover
And we all go traveling by, by Sheena Roberts and illustrated by Siobhan Bell is published by Barefoot Books - an independent publisher that creates "bright, colourful books for children that combine beautiful artwork with captivating storytelling. [Books] that capture the imagination, spark curiosity, inspire creativity and instill respect for cultural, social and ecological diversity." 
Picturebooks that feature transports aren't easy to come by for pre-primary children and this is why I like this title so much. It's rhythmic text is both repetitive and musical - I challenge anyone to share this story without breaking into song. IMPOSSIBLE! It also plays with the traditional English word game 'I spy with my little eye' and adds, 'You can hear with your little ear', because if you have a book about transport you wil hear all sorts of noises, from the beep-beep-beep of the yellow school bus to the tap-tap-tap of a pair of purple shoes ... afterall, our feet transport us to places too!  
It's an unusual book as the illustrations were created first as embroidered pictures - Siobhan Bell is a full-time textile artist, who has exhibitions and all sorts. This makes the picturebook just that little bit extra special, and the children really enjoy looking closely and discovering this technique. You can talk to them about this too - Information about Siobhan, is on the inside of the front flap. 
There are no endpapers, but the inside of the covers are decorated with a pattern containing some of the images we will see inside the book. 
Inside of front cover
The title page begins our story, I love it when this happens.  
Title page
There's a queue of people at a bus stop, even a cat, which the children I work with think is their puppet Hoola, so that brings them even closer to the story... What could they all be waiting for? The school bus of course!
Opening 1
And so we begin our repetitive refrain... 
I spy with my little eye, 
You hear with your little ear,
A yellow school bus goes beep-beep-beep. 
And we all go travelling by, bye, bye, 
And we all go travelling by. 
Next comes a brigh tred truck that goes rumble-rumble-rumble, and it becomes part of the rhythmical sing-song text, and part of the illustrations too. Next a long blue train, which of course goes chuff-chuff-chuff!  It is loooong! 
Opening 3
Over hills and dales we are taken in the embroidered illustrations, collecting a pink bike (ring-ring-ring) and a little greenboat (chug-a-lug-a-lug) 
Opening 5
Can you see the boat? It's so green it kind of disappears into the hills and dales (if I had been the editor I'd have questioned the choice of colour there!) ... then we pick up a big white plane (neeeeeee-oww) that's my favourite! A fast orange car (vroom-vroom-vroom) and finally "Two purple shoes go tap-tap-tap".
Opening 8
That's a busy spread ... completed by the sing-song refrain: And we all go traveling by, bye, bye. And we all go traveling by. 
But hey! We are not done yet. Where is everyone going? Any idea? The next opening let's out the secret...
Opening 10
Our eyes can see and our ears can hear "A loud silver bell goes ding-a-ling-a-ling:" Everyone is going to school, of course! 
And we all start another school day, hooray!
And we all start another school day!
The final spread is a wonderful clear collage of all the different transport, which typically small children love nominating. The book is not allowed to be closed if we haven't looked and pointed at everything there, and remembered each accompanying sound. 
Opening 11
This is a winner with 4-year-olds, who appreciate the simplicity of the repetition, the musicality, the transport sounds and the supportive illustrations (except maybe for the green boat!). The book comes with a CD which has both the song and an animated version of the story. You can also find this on YouTube:
YouTube video

And if you really want to go for transport in a big way there are even some instant resources for you to use to reinforce the transport words through visuals, which can be found here:

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