Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

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Anthony Browne is children’s lit royalty. Books like Silly Billy and Piggybook are some of my absolute favourites.

I always think of Anthony Browne as a clever illustrator who is able to litter his books with visual delights and tricks.  I imagine being the person who received these images only to spot the optical illusion behind the statues (you need to get the book to fully check it out.) He does have a bonkers love of drawing gorillas but who cares when his stories are always a visual masterclass.

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Browne isn’t only clever with his image design. This story presents a narrative of a simple event, yet viewed from four different points of view.  Two families visit the park, each a parent with their child. Even though they visit the same place, they experience it in a vastly different manner. Not due to anything exciting, more about who they are as a person.

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The images above and below just show how clever Browne is.  The image above presents a single images but the use of shade and weather alters the ‘experience’ these children represent.  Even the font changes depending on the voice. While below the pair of images show how your frame of mind can change after enjoying yourself. The grimmer view is on the way to the park, the other shows the return from it. Pathetic fallacy anyone?

Now for the teacher bit. The great thing about picture books is sometimes they are a shortcut to hard ideas to present in novel form.  If you want to get your children to write complex stories then following this structure would work a treat. Same location, different experiences.  Set it on a bus with four different views – someone late for work, someone who has just finished work, someone on the way to a job interview, the driver.  Set it at the beach.  Set it in a restaurant.  Basically anywhere as the beauty of it comes from complex nature of showing we all see the world through our own prism.

Anthony Browne is simply one of the best, yet this is one of his most impressive efforts.

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