Inspired by World Philosophy Day 19.11.2020, we decided to make it our theme of the month and chose ‘If …’ by Sarah Perry as our picturebook of the month. If you know ‘If …’, you will know it is very different from any of our other monthly book choices – we just felt it was perfect for this theme. ‘If …’ is celebrating its 25th anniversary, but here is a write-up from its 15th anniversary. No doubt, it will answer many of your if and why questions.
Front cover: This is a replica of one of the illustrations from inside the book. Once you’ve shared the picturebook ask children which illustration they would put on the front cover.
Back cover: Read the blurb, emphasising ‘fantastical journey’ and ‘visual feast’. Ask children what they think they might see inside.
Endpapers: These are ants. The front cover represents the Big Dipper constellation and the back endpapers represent the Little Dipper constellation. Ask children to look for these at night and find the Alcor star.
Format: The picturebook follows a verbal-visual pattern: the beginning of the phrase is on the verso and the image is always on the recto completing the phrase, and opening up space for talk around the possibilities.
Art and creativity literacy : Seeing the world in a different way, looking at pictures in detail, speculating and thinking about what we see. Noticing techniques and materials used to create the pictures and creating own speculations and pictures.
Visual literacy : Making connections to own lived experiences and questioning own perceptions by responding to questions, eg., Which is your favourite picture ? Why ?; How does the picture make you feel ? Why ?; Do you think the picture is positive or negative ? Why ? Do you notice anything unusual in the picture ? How would you complete the sentence ?
Traditional literacy : Recognising the pattern of type 2 conditional sentences and using as a model for own writing of ‘If’ sentences. Creating a class If … book.
Rethinking how we think about a picturebook to ensure first impressions or personal feelings do not lead to teachers rejecting a book.
Language focus: Second conditional, finishing sentences in the pre-reading stage (If mice were hair … ; If caterpillars were toothpaste …)
After reading the book sharing students’ ideas and riddles (If hedgehogs were pillows … ; If fish had legs …).
Art education: Drawing posters individually or in groups – they serve as riddles for other groups to guess the sentence.