Animals like us
- Olivia’ by Ian Falconer, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, 2000
- My uncle’s donkey’ by Tohby Riddle, published by Penguin Books Australia, 2010
Engaging personally with texts – both texts
- concentrate on everyday activities. Most students will be able to relate personally to the types of experiences in the texts.
- have family (in different forms) at the centre of the story.
- use iconic references to create humour and rely on the reader’s background knowledge to access the humour.
Understand and apply language forms and features – both texts:
- have a narrative structure similar to that of a child’s daily routine. Once Olivia has been introduced to the reader, the text then takes on a day-to-night sequence. My Uncle’s Donkey starts in the morning and ends after the night-time routine.
- are visually similar. The illustrations depict objects and characters in the foreground. The backgrounds are white, which makes the reader pay more attention to the expressions on the characters’ faces.
- use anthropomorphic animals to tell the story.
Resources for making connections:
- Action Jackson (9:24) by Jan Greenberg, Sandra Jordan and Robert Andrew Parker (2007)
- Jackson Pollock – artist referred to in Olivia
- Edgar Degas – artist referred to in Olivia
- Excerpt from The kid with Charlie Chaplin (2.54) (film reference from My Uncle’s Donkey)
A study of either text could lead to a study of representations in texts such as:
- How are pigs and donkeys represented in texts? Think of fairy tales, rhymes and animated movies.
Learning experiences and question approaches
- What are the different visual representations of pigs and donkeys in these texts?
- How is the family represented in Olivia and My Uncle’s Donkey? What other texts represent families in different ways?
- Why might composers choose to give animals human features to represent a family?
- Look at the sibling relationship in the text. What features of the text (language and visual qualities) convey to the reader the relationship between Olivia and her brother?
- What other texts portray sibling relationships? Are they represented in the same way? Consider ‘I wish I had a pirate suit’ by Pamela Allen or any version of the Cinderella story.
- The donkey in ‘My Uncle’s Donkey’ could be in the narrator’s imagination, as the donkey and the uncle never make eye contact. How is imagination represented in other texts? Consider Tiddler by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler, Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak, When Harry caught Imaginitus by Nick Bland.
Example of representation
- The sheep-pig by Dick King-Smith
- Babe film (1995)
- Charlotte’s Web film (2006) and (1973)
- Miss Piggy from the Muppets The wonky donkey by Craig Smith
- Rhyme: ‘This little piggy went to market …’
- Peppa Pig - screened on the ABC
- Charlotte’s Web a novel by E.B White (1952)
- Shrek film (2001)
- The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett
- The Donkey who carried the Wounded by Jackie French
- The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith
- Rhyme – ‘Donkey, donkey, old and grey …’