Piggybook by Anthony Browne


Recently the importance of picture books has been highlighted by many educators and Anthony Browne is a fore-runner for the likes of Emily Gravett and Oliver Jeffers due to his use of illustration as a way of powerful storytelling.


I could have picked any of his books to show this such as Willy the Wimp or The Tunnel, but I went with the lesser known tale of not helping those we love most.  The story shows how a family interacts and how the Mum is the foundations on which everything is built.  The males in the family, her husband and two sons, don’t seem to notice everything she does from tidying the house to cooking each meal while also having her own job.  One day she decides that her family don’t deserve her hard work so she leaves.  Needless to say the outcome for the boys means their selfish outlook comes to a sticky end.


For those who have never used the wonderful books of Anthony Browne, the above pages give a hint to how complex his illustrations are.  Notice the wall paper, notice the heads of the pokers, notice the tiles surrounding the fire, each with details that are to be lavished over.  Even the portrait is a huge talking point as the man is a pig and the female is missing, much like in the story.

Now for the teacher bit.  What a fantastic story to show the need for empathy and should be explored with children to allow them to reflect on how they treat the adults in their lives.  When I have used it with classes, normally Y2, I have looked at letter writing from the viewpoints of Mum (why she is leaving) to the family (why they want her back) as well as linking non-fiction texts through non-chronological reports about pigs.  It is surprising how much interesting information there is about less exotic animals that capture the imagination.

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