Show/Hide Description.

PEPELT Live event:

Sandie Mourão for the first of the PEPELT activities for February Sandie will be talking about ‘Wolves‘ by Emily Gravett, which won the 2005 Kate Greenaway award.

Here’s a link to a blog post she wrote about Wolves in 2011:

Show/Hide Description.

Gail’s choice for February is ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!’ by Mo Willems and first published by Hyperion for Children in 2003. It was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004 and is the first in a series featuring the Pigeon character. A bus driver who takes a break asks the reader not to let the Pigeon drive the bus. But the Pigeon desperately wants to drive it and appeals to the reader to give him permission to do so. The bus driver-to-reader and pigeon-to-reader approach encourages children to reflect on what is responsible action and what is not, and why not. It also develops their emotional literacy as they read and interpret the Pigeon’s expressions throughout the narrative.

Before showing the children the front cover, I would show them the front and back endpapers and ask what they think the Pigeon is dreaming about and why it would not be responsible to allow the Pigeon to drive a bus or a lorry. Perhaps they can predict the picturebook title?! I love the way the verbal narrative begins on the title page spread, where the bus driver addresses the reader incorporating the title ‘Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!’ into his speech bubble. The next opening, the copyright and dedication pages, continue the visual narrative as we see the bus driver walking out of the copyright page for his break and the Pigeon’s head and neck appearing at the bottom right-hand corner of the dedication page. And from here the verbal narrative continues, upon the page-turn, ‘I thought he’d never leave’ says the Pigeon who then tries to persuade the reader to let him drive the bus. Each time he pleads, the children can give some of the reasons they thought of earlier, for example, The Pigeon hasn’t got a driving licence. The Pigeon doesn’t know the Highway Code. His legs are too short, he can’t reach the pedals. It would be dangerous. He could crash the bus. He could cause an accident.

The illustrations are minimalist against a pale pastel coloured background. The words appear in speech bubbles, and everything, including the Pigeon, has a black crayon outline giving the illustrations a sort-of-cartoon style. Based on the back endpapers, the children could write and illustrate their own continuation of the story. As an extension activity the children could research pigeons and create a poster. Here are a few examples produced by 9/10 year-olds in France.

An animated adaptation of the book, produced by Weston Woods, won the 2010 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video. Here’s the film:

Show/Hide Description.

Mable and the Mountain is a story about believing in yourself: “Mabel might be small (in fact, she’s a fly), but she has some big plans, one of which is to climb a mountain. Her friends are distinctly unhelpful, telling her that it’s ridiculous and can’t be done, but Mabel is determined and sets off immediately. On finding a mountain, Mabel starts to climb it. But after a lot of climbing, she’s still only a little way up. There are other, stronger and faster people (and goats!) climbing the mountain too, but Mabel perseveres, and finally, she makes it to the top! Congratulations, Mabel!”

This is a fabulously positive picturebook and most suitable for PELT. It is bright with short text which has been arranged in various ways on the page (e.g. speech bubbles) and printed in different fonts and font sizes. Children love this book and so do student teachers. I think, like their class, they can see themselves in this book. Sometimes, learning to teach English is like climbing a mountain and, like Mabel, student teachers…

  • sometimes feel insecure.
  • need self-belief and courage to walk into a classroom and teach English.
  • need determination and perseverance to develop their language & teaching skills.
  • need teacher educators to believe in them.
  • In the classroom we have completed various ELT activities which will work in the PELT classroom, such as ‘writing a plan’, discussing vocabulary for emotions and sharing tips to stay positive.

    The publisher has kindly prepared some resources and a template to make a plan

    Show/Hide Description.

    The last post for the month for PEPELT looking at award-winning picturebooks – it comes from Anneta Sadowska, with some questions from Sandie Mourão too!

    Anneta talks about ‘Waiting’ by Kevin Henkes (Green WIllow Books, 2015) – it is a Caldecott Honor Book, and also a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. It is, as you may have guessed, a book about waiting! Anneta’s ideas are sure to surprise you … she tells us how she has taken ‘Waiting’ into her upper primary classroom as a prompt for mindfulness. Fascinating! Do watch!

    For those of you, like Sandie, who are unfamiliar with Kevin Henkes’ award winning work – he is the creator of ‘Chrysanthemum’, about a mouse who didn’t like her long name until she realised how unique it made her, an ALA Notable Children’s Book. Have a look at his website and watch a short film about how he created his Caldecott Medal Book, ‘Kitten’s first full moon’ :