No Outside Sources
Once you have identified what book you want to use and start working on the assignment, It is very important that you NOT consult outside sources about the book for this assignment (other than the course textbook or the online resources mentioned in this document). As I stated earlier, this assignment is a test of your knowledge of course concepts and your ability to apply them to a book. If you consult outside sources about your book, you will be conveying someone else’s knowledge. The only thing I am interested in knowing for this assignment is what YOU think about the book. Sometimes students will feel unsure of themselves and think that “experts” or other readers know more than the students do, so they look up outside information. It is important for you to realize that even children’s literature experts disagree about books, and their opinion is no more valid than yours. Actually, their opinion has NO validity on an assignment that specifically asks YOU to analyze and give YOUR opinion about a book. Genre
“Identify the genre” of the book means this: If the authors of Essentials were to use your book as an example in one of the genre chapters, in which chapter would it appear? The ONLY answers you should have for this question should be one of the following: traditional literature, modern fantasy, contemporary realism (realistic fiction), or historical fiction. Explain your why your book is the genre you selected and not one of the others. What I am looking for here is evidence that you understand the defining characteristics for each genre. Check the “definition and description” section in the appropriate genre chapter (chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10) in Essentials. Sometimes a story can be a blend of modern fantasy and realistic fiction. If that is the case for your book, specifically explain which parts are fantasy, and which parts are realistic, using details and specific examples from the book you are analyzing.
Your analysis of the literary elements is a very important part of your picture book analysis (it is perhaps the most important part). Do not skimp on this part of your paper! You want to analyze each literary element and fully explain your response, using evidence and specific examples from the picture book you are analyzing.
Analyze the plot structure and the plot conflict of the story.
The structure should be a chronological, progressive plot. (See pages 26-27 of Essentials for an explanation of types of plot structure.) More complicated plot structures will make your job of analyzing the book unnecessarily difficult, as you are required to accurately analyze the plot structure.
Analyze the conflicts in the story. (See page 26 of Essentials for an explanation of types of conflict: person against person, person against self, person against nature, and person against society.) Describe the conflict in your book and explain, using details and specific examples from the picture book you are analyzing.
The plot is a very important part of picture books for children, so make sure you do a good job with this part of your paper. Note: In order to do well on this part of your paper, it is vital that the book you select have a recognizable plot with conflict, and that the plot is substantial enough for you to analyze.
Characters and Characterization
The book you select should have well-developed characters. Your job is to analyze the characters and the characterization in your book. How would you describe the characters? I don’t necessarily mean their physical characteristics, unless that important to the story. The important thing here is to analyze the personality traits of the characters. What adjectives would you use to describe the characters? How do those character traits influence the actions of the character, and how do those actions influence the plot? What motivates the character’s actions? I have been trying to prepare you for this (and the other parts of this assignment) by the questions I have been asking you in course discussions. The concept of characterization is discussed on pages 28 and 29 of Essentials.
Is the setting important to the story? Depending on the book you use for this assignment, the setting may or may not be important to the story. In some books, the setting is not specified and is not important–the story could take place anywhere at any time. In other books, the setting is very important to the story. If the setting of your story is not important, say that. If the setting is important to the story, explain why, using evidence and specific examples from the book you are analyzing. Setting is discussed on page 29 of Essentials.
What is the theme of the story? What message is the author trying to convey? Thoroughly explain your answer, providing evidence and specific examples from the picture book you are analyzing. Theme is discussed on page 30 of Essentials. Be sure to note that “a theme is usually better expressed by means of a complete sentence than by a single word” (Short et al., 2018, p. 30).
For the “textual issues” part of your paper, you should analyze the author’s writing style and use of language and literary devices. Think of it this way: If you were to read a manuscript of the book, with no pictures, focusing only on the words, what would stand out to you? Your focus here is on the words of the book. Consult the section “Style” on pages 30-32 of Essentials. The section “The Significance of Style and Word Choice in Poetry” on pages 80-83 of Essentials can also be useful in identifying and describing literary devices the author may use in the story. Your response should show that you understand the effect of the author’s use of language and technique on a text and reader.
The “artistic/visual issues” part of your paper asks you to analyze the art in the picture book.
To the best of your knowledge, what artistic media does the illustrator use? This is not art class, and I realize that most of us are not artists. However, you should be able to tell if the pictures are painted or drawn, or if the illustrator used collage to create the pictures, for instance. (For a discussion of artistic media, see pages 38-39 of Essentials or the information in the “Readings” section of the Week 8 folder on Blackboard.)
Read the section “Visual Elements” on pages 36-38 of Essentials and review the Erbach articles in the Week 8 folder. Describe and discuss the visual elements used by the illustrator. Be specific, using evidence and specific examples from the book you are analyzing. What is distinctive about the pictures in this book?
Relationship Between Text and Illustrations
The main question in the section “Relationship between Text and Illustrations” is this: How do the words and the pictures work together to tell the story? Examine Table 4.1 “How Illustrations Contribute to Picture Book Stories: A Summary” on page 43 of Essentials. Pay particular attention to the section “Literary Elements.” Explain how the visual elements of the illustrations contribute to the literary elements of the story. Many students fall short in this part of the assignment. Considering the section “Literary Elements” in the chart mentioned above and addressing those points in your paper should help you.
For the “overall effect” part of your paper, explain your thoughts about the paper as a whole. For the previous parts of the paper, I asked you to pick the book apart and examine the separate components of the books. Here I am asking you to put them back together and talk about the book as a whole. I often give students this bit of advice: Put the book away and imagine that you are talking to me about the book. Just tell me about the book as a whole. I also expect you to use details and specific examples from the book in this section.
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