Our choice of storybook is “The Great Big Turnip” edited by Bob Williams, published by KohWai and Young. This book is appropriate for children aged four to six as it is specially designed and created to assist children who have mastered basic reading skills.
Marchado (2010) states that “the success of any book for young children depends on its presentation of basic human tasks, needs, and concerns based on children’s perceptions, and at a level at which they can respond” (p. 289). Thus, after examining our selected choices of books, we decided to choose The Great Big Turnip because it has met many aspects of selecting the right book for young children.
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The story revolves around a farmer who had discovered a giant turnip in his garden. He could not pull it out alone hence he sought help from his family members and other animals in the house. Together, they managed to pull the turnip out of the ground and enjoyed plenty of food for many years. From this synopsis, the story is able to inculcate the value of teamwork in the readers as it teaches that joint effort makes it easier to complete a task.
Its print and vibrant illustrations had captivated us instantaneously. The language used is age appropriate for children to learn and comprehend. The moral of the story is that we should always help others when they are in need, even if you may think that your help is insignificant.
The plot is good because it creates suspense in the story to develop the children’s interest in reading the book.
It is also simple and straightforward as it focuses on how the farmer gets help to pull the giant turnip out of the ground. Machado (2010) states that “simple plot necessitated by the length of a picture book allows young children to become involved immediately in action, discover problem, and understand the resolution” (p. 289).
The story is in a chronological order as it unfolds sequentially. In the beginning on page 3, it talks about the farmer planting turnip seeds on the ground. In the middle on page 7, the farmer asked his wife for help when he could not pull the turnip out all by himself. Eventually, they still needed more people to help out. On page 14, it reveals how the turnip was pulled out from the ground.
From the plot, readers are able to pick out problem-solving skills from the characters, such as asking for assistance. The climax of the story happens on page 13 when six more characters were involved in pulling the turnip out of the ground, and it arrests the children’s attention to find out how the characters overcome the situation.
The characters in the storybook are life like as they appear like normal living being. Machado (2010) states that “characters should be portrayed realistically and have experiences and emotions with which children can immediately identify” (p. 289). Thus, this book has definitely met the book selection criteria.
The protagonist in the story is a farmer. As the story continues, other characters develop one after another throughout the story to help the farmer. The story does not talk about the characters’ past, present and future as it focuses on how the farmer gets help from his family to pull the big turnip out of the ground.
Based on the farmer’s dialogue, it shows that he is a jovial person. On page 5 and 7, the farmer was elated to find out that his plant had grown into an enormous turnip. At the end of the story on page 16, the farmer shows a sense of happiness as it states that “the happy farmer ate turnip for years” (William, 2002).
Besides, this book also portrays an array of emotions based on the other character’s dialogue on page 7, 9 and 11. It shows excitement yet their struggles in pulling out the turnip.
The farmer’s garden is the main location where the story took place during daytime. Based on a western context, readers are able to visualize a realistic event that occurred in the story which helps to build on their prior knowledge of the images.
The theme of the story is able to relate to children’s understandings, needs and interests because underlying concept educates the importance of teamwork and unity. The farmer would not be able to pull the big turnip out of the ground without the help of his wife, son, daughter, dog, cat and mouse. It shows the significance of working towards a goal in harmony; oneness of mind.
Style and Diction:
The language used is simple and age-appropriate for children aged four to six. The language used is able to create mood from text such as “exclaimed”, “cried” and “excited”. The story involves a careful choice of words and rhythm such as “they all pulled and pulled, but the turnip still would not come out!” With a predictable text, children are able to participate by reading aloud to themselves or a storyteller.
And the book contains good diction as it contains phrases like “eyes popped out from her head”, “luckily”, “fell backwards in a heap”.
Point of View:
The author used a third person point of view to write the story using pronoun like “He, She and They”. Objective point of view was used in the story as the author only “tells what happen without stating more than [what] can be inferred from the story’s action and dialogue” (Literature, No Date).
It is not reflected in the storybook.
It is not reflected in the storybook.
The picture-book’s visual variety would kindle the interests of the children and arrest their visual attention. It is slightly smaller than an A4-sized book which words inside are of Arial font and appropriate font size. The space in between words and line spacing are not cluttered. Hence, this popular fairytale facilitates easy one-on-one readings and independent reading.
On the cover page, yellow, embroidered images on the borders of ‘The Great Big Turnip’ give volume to the title and front illustrations. Every word in the title is capitalised and dark turquoise in colour. Below the title is a bright and colourful cartoon of the climax of the story, which is also slightly similar to the cartoon on page 14 and page 15.
The clever illustration will intrigue readers as it shows just the giant turnip spinning out of the soil and several characters falling behind. It allows readers to think about what happened in the story.
Illustrations are two-dimensional which gives a visual texture and promotes imagery development.
Heavy lines used give more precision and curved lines used depict fluidity which brings the characters to life. Jagged lines can be found on page 15’s illustration of the spinning turnip, which enables the readers to sense danger.
Colour and Shape:
Furthermore, the cartoon characters stand out more as additional colours and geometric shapes are used to allow the reader to clearly differentiate all of them. Illustrations from page 13 are good examples, as when the characters are pulling the turnip out, the reader would not focus on other things such as the house far away or even the forest in the background.
Colours such as brown used compliment the settings like the farmer’s wooden house and the soil in his garden. There is also more assertion and rigidity in the illustration of the farmer due to the geometric shapes used (Scott, 1989).
Free-form shapes such as the ‘cursive ends’ of the turnip on page 15 enable the reader to imagine the great amount of force when the turnip was pulled out (Scott, 1989).
All in all, the visual elements of the picture-book nurture visual literacy which builds on the language development of child. They allow the facilitating readability and influencing recall of the text (Machado, 2010).
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