Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ON NOAH'S ARK (Genre: Traditional Literature/module 3)

Bibliographic Information:

Title: On Noah's Ark

Author: Jan Brett

Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Publication Date: September 2003

Noah's granddaughter narrates this story of the days leading up to and the days spent on the ark. She describes the challenges getting all of the animals aboard, where they all fit on the boat, and the ensuing chaos. Noah's granddaughter calms the animals and helps them to fall asleep until forty days later when her dove goes out to bring back a green leaf. This is an interesting perspective of the Noah's ark tale. First, the story is told from the point of view of the granddaughter, in first person. This brings the tale a realistic touch for children because they can associate with a the young girl. Second, as always Jan Brett includes illustrations in the margins as well as with the main body of the text. Brett uses various shapes (my daughter said they looked like cookie cutters) to include additional information about the story in the sidebar illustrations. Each page includes a minimal amount of text, telling the Noah's ark story in a simplistic yet easy to read fashion. Finally this book has beautiful illustrations that truly do help to tell the story. Brett and her husband travelled to Africa to help her recreate the mammals and birds that appear in the text. The papyrus paper that appears on the borders of the book was inspired by Brett's trip in which she saw the large amounts of papyrus plants growing along the Okavango Delta. It's obvious in this work, that the African trip influenced Brett's work in this publication because Brett describes the experience as "primal" in the jacket notes and the simplicity of the illustrations belies a native, natural feel. This book is appropriate for all audiences as it doesn't have the moralistic feel of a traditionally Biblical Noah's ark tale. Brett omits the references to God or punishment that are often associated with this story and instead includes the essential elements of the paired animals, the forty days and nights of rain, and the dove bearing the greenery to signify the end of the storm and the receeding waters.

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