Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where Does the Trouble Take These Books?

Week of July 1, 2012: We’ve Got Trouble!
Tuesday, July 3—Where Does the Trouble Take These Books?

We’ve established that having trouble (or a problem) in a picture book is essential, and that the trouble has to be on a big scale for the main character. But it’s not enough to have trouble at the beginning of a picture book. The trouble has to grow and grow, and the situation must become worse and worse for the main character. Often the worsening situation leads to a black moment when it seems all is lost, the situation is hopeless, and the character is going to be defeated by the trouble. Then, of course, the trouble/problem is solved and the story is resolved.

Today we’re going to look at the same set of books we examined yesterday, and we’ll see how the trouble grows and grows and grows in each of these examples.

!From Comes A Wind by Linda Arms White and Tom Curry:

Trouble/Problem: Mama wants her squabbling boys to get along on her birthday.
XThe boys arrive and immediately begin to try to outdo each other
            XClyde tells a tall tale about the wind/Clement tries to outdo
            XMama nearly catches the boys arguing
            XClyde and Clem trade wind tales again
            XThey stop as Mama comes out
            XThen the real wind comes up—blowing the animals, the barn, and everything
                        else all around the farm
Black moment:
Finally the wind blows Mama all the way up to the weathervane where she gets stuck
The boys have to work together to save Mama and her birthday

!From The Curious Garden by Peter Brown:

Trouble/Problem: A green-less world
            XThe boy discovers a dark, abandoned railroad and a small patch of wildflowers
                        on the top of the tracks
            XThe boy tends the flowers and they grow—then winter comes and the garden is
            X(NOTE: Illustrations throughout the book amp up the problem by showing
                        factories, abandoned buildings, smoke stacks, abandoned cars, litter, etc.)
            XThe boy spends winter preparing for gardening/Winter takes a toll on the garden
            XThe boy works the garden back into shape/The garden begins to spread
            XPlants begin popping up all over town—and so do gardeners
Years later the city is abloom

!From: Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer and Mike Reed:

Trouble/Problem: Not fitting in at Cowboy Camp
            XAvery’s name wasn’t like the other cowboys
            XCan’t eat cowboy food
            XAllergic to horses
            XGets rope burns from the lasso
Black Moment:
A bad cowboy arrives at night to destroy Cowboy Camp
Avery uses all of his cowboy inadequacies to convince the bad cowboy that this is
not Cowboy Camp—thus saving the camp

!From: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows Can Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Trouble/Problem: Typing cows
XThe cows demand electric blankets/farmer refuses/cows refuse to give milk
XCows type again/The cows say the hens want electric blankets, too
XFarmer types a letter/no blankets/demands milk and eggs
Black Moment:
Cows and chickens don’t know what to do/send letter and offer to trade typewriter for electric blankets/Duck delivers message
Ducks keep typewriter and demand a diving board

!From: Come On, Rain! By Karen Hesse and Jon J. Muth

Trouble/Problem: The lack of rain
            XSees clouds in the distance/“Come on, rain!”
            XMama says not to put on swim suit/little girl convinces Mama rain is
                        coming/puts on suit/“Come on, rain!”
            XRain comes
            XGirls play in the rain/make so much noise they disturb neighbors
Neighbor throws shoe at girls/but the neighbor women are actually taking off hose and shoes/ and join the girls in the rain (including Mama)
Mama and girl walk home together as rain ends and sun comes out

!From Cowlick by Christin Ditchfield and Rosalind Bearshaw

Trouble/Problem: Someone or something is clomping down the hall at night
Escalation: (NOTE: A lot of the escalation comes through the illustrations)
   XThe cow slowly turns the doorknob
            XHe lifts the covers and sees the sleeping boy
            XQuickly and quietly the cow bends to give the boy a kiss
            XThen kisses everyone else
Black moment:
SLURP! Cowlick!
In the morning they try to brush their hair, but how can you get rid of a cowlick?

What do these examples show us?
R The trouble can get worse in a variety ways.
R Worse doesn’t have to always mean pain and agony—it can mean humor, it can mean an escalation of events, it can mean one calamity after another, and more.
R Trouble can be shown through words, through illustrations, or through a combination of both.

It’s Your Turn!
uGrab your stack of picture books from yesterday and see what escalation in trouble you can find in each book.
vBe sure to look at the illustrations as well as the text for the trouble.

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