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 features Grade 7 students' oral and written responses to Shaun Tan's 2001 The Red Tree, one of the picturebooks used during two multifaceted, classroom based research projects. As well as examining how the students responded to and interpreted texts with metafictive devices, the research explored how students transferred their knowledge and understanding of various literary and art elements in picturebooks and graphic novels when creating their own multimodal print texts. The discussion of one small group's transcript excerpts and written responses reveals how the students engaged in collaborative talk as they worked to interpret the artwork and text in Tan's picturebook, and how their exploratory talk affected their written work. The article concludes by exploring several factors that need to be considered when developing effective pedagogy for classroom talk. [Author's abstract]