Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Less is more – Part 3

Finally, to wrap up the Less is More theme, there is Elephant Elephant by Francisco Pittau (153.23 PiE 2001 PIC BK).

This is categorized as a ‘concept book’ as it looks at the concept of opposites.  It starts off as you would pretty much expect - a big elephant opposite a small elephant.

But, then, it quickly steps away from the standard depictions
-          a wide elephant opposite a narrow elephant,
-          start (the front of the elephant) opposite finish (the back end),
-          top (the top half of elephant) and opposite bottom (just the stomach and legs),
-          furry (shaggy elephant) opposite feather (well, feathery elephant),
-          plains (flatten back of elephant) opposite mountains (elephants back is two mountain peaks).

There are three sets of opposites (I’ll only speak about two) that always generate comments from the MT students.  Boy opposite girl.  Any guesses as to how this is depicted?  Well, let’s just say ‘bathroom humour’ and leave it at that.  (Grade 3 students will howl with laughter.)

The one other picture I find really interesting and think would provide a great opportunity for discussion is the one with two elephants facing each other. They look identical and are labeled smart and stupid.  OHHHH! Talk about loaded.  Fantastic for discussion about the contentious word stupid; what is smart and what is stupid; why do we label people; who is this book appropriate for; would this book be good in the classroom?

Overall, this is not the book a teacher would use to introduce the topic of opposites to young children for the first time.  I think it’s for older kids who will appreciate the subtle (and not so subtle) humour, some of the more sophisticated elements of opposites and finally, it could be used to inspire kids to find their own atypical opposites.

Any other ideas?


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