Picture Books Year 5
The Paperbag Prince by Colin Thompson Red Fox 1994
The Paperbag Prince is a story about an old man who lives in a railway carriage on a rubbish dump. He cares for and 'looks after' the rubbish dump, by sorting through and saving useful things and caring for the wildlife that manages to make it their home. The story is absolutely riveting with an unexpected twist!
As in other Colin Thompson books, the illustrations are exquisitely detailed, leading to hours of scrutiny. They are brilliantly rich in colour and hold as many well-hidden treasures as the dump itself.
Two themes emerge: one, environmental; the second, growing old.
The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman Bloomsbury 2007
The Wolves in the Walls is a story about Lucy and her family, and how they have wolves living in their walls - or at least that's what Lucy thinks. She hears scratching and nibbling in the walls and is convinced that the noises are coming from the wolves. But everyone that Lucy tells (her mum, dad and brother,) dismisses her concerns with more believable explanations. Little do they know, Lucy's tale isn't that far-fetched...
The illustrations are collages and are intended to be scary. The story has a dark sophistication which is emphasised through the unusual images. When the wolves appear in the story, they are drawn in a manic, cartoon style different from the human characters, but in some ways more frightening.
Eric by Shaun Tan Templar Publishing 2010
Eric is the story of a foreign exchange student who comes to live with a suburban family but, as we are informed in the synopsis on the back of the book, he didn't want to use the guest room. On the surface the story is a simple one. However, Eric is an enigma. It is through the haunting pictures that we are made aware of his diminutive size and the questions he asks. The story tackles the issue of cultural misunderstanding. The monotone images throughout the main part of the story contrast sharply with those at the beginning and the end. A story with many layers and just a little bit of magic.
Links to other related pages
Granpa by John Burningham Red Fox 2003 (New edition)
A word of warning ~ don't read this book to your class unless you have read it yourself beforehand. Of course, that's true of all books. However, this one comes with a special warning. You could be easily drawn in by the warmth of the illustrations and the truly loving relationship between grandfather and grandaughter. At first this is a beautiful and endearing story of the perfect grandfather. At no point are you really prepared for what is one of the most powerful and emotional endings you can imagine.
Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan Red Fox 2004 (new edition)
This is a gripping, haunting, and compassionate story. Young Rose Blanche lives in a small German village and one day witnesses the fear of a young boy being held by Nazi soldiers. Wanting to know why he was so afraid and what was going to happen to him, she follows tanks deep into the forest. There, she discovers a hidden concentration camp filled with starving women and children. This book depicts her compassion and efforts to help alleviate their hunger as it shows the horrors of this time period.
The illustrations are remarkable and will keep you lingering on each page. They easily show the desolation while symbolizing Rose as their hope.