Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 5 and Year 6 (NSW Stage 3)
Picture books have traditionally been seen as part of the early years of primary school. They are often used to engage and support young readers as they are learning to read. Many contemporary picture books are, however, multilayered and are often appropriate for different ages. This unit of work aims to stretch and develop the traditional concept so that, depending on the author, illustrator and complexity of themes, picture books can be for everyone.
A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. ‘Sometimes you wake up with nothing to look forward to …’ As she wanders around a world that is complex, puzzling and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl returns to her bedroom to find that a tiny red seedling has grown to fill the room with warm light. Shaun Tan’s latest creation, The Red Tree, is a book about feelings – feelings that can not always be simply expressed in words. It is a series of imaginary landscapes conjured up by the wizardry of Shaun Tan’s masterful and miraculous art. As a kind of fable, The Red Tree seeks to remind us that, though some bad feelings are inevitable, they are always tempered by hope.
Source: Publication Synopsis Reading Australia
'This article examines drama in relation to girls' education, and considers some of the ways in which drama might be applied in schools to challenge limiting hegemonic narratives about gender and support the emerging understandings and performances of femininities of adolescent girls. It reports on case study research conducted with a Year 9 Drama class (14–15-year olds) at an Australian girls' school, where curriculum-based drama was used to investigate the complexities of twenty-first century girlhood. The study aimed to deliberately create work for/with/by girls, where in a supportive environment girls could use their girl know-how to inform the drama. Working simultaneously both inside and beyond the curriculum, the project used Shaun Tan's book The Red Tree as a core focus for a girl-centred process drama. The research study examined the ways in which the girls' gendered knowledge was both dynamised and problematised through the dramatic processes, as the drama invited them to explore issues and intersections of self, relationship and identity performance (in everyday life and online). Unlike the Rita of Willy Russell's play, who becomes the Pygmalion project of her older, male mentor, this drama focused on girls learning from girls, for themselves – valuing the knowledge they brought to the dramatic process and considering alternatives or possible storylines as girls. The project invited the girls to create their very own Rita, who was poised on the edge of change just like them, and to consider the critical issues and potential connections between her story and their own stories as girls.'