“Picture books are more than just illustrated storybooks, with the written text, fonts, and illustrations all part of the story.” (Lewis, 2001). Picture books have deeper meanings behind the text and illustrations. The combination of the written and visual language contributes to the development of ideas and characters that can be related to society and personal experiences of the reader. In this essay I am going to discuss language features (written and visual), and ideas in relation to Melu, written by Kyle Mewburn, and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly.
Melu is a picture book about a mule named Melu who lives with his herd in the sun-baked hills on an island surrounded by a glittering green sea and lush green grass. For generations the herd of mules have been clip-clopping around the sun-baked hills. However, Melu is different. When the herd clips, Melu clops. When they clop, Melu clips. Melu dreams of leaving the herd and venturing down to the glittering green sea and the lush green grass. Eventually he does, despite the disapproval from the herd. Melu comes across some obstacles, where his new friends, Goat and Bull help him. Together Melu, Goat and Bull journey together to the lush fields and the sea. Melu won the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Award.
Kyle Mewburn has used certain written language features to help develop the characters in the story. He combines alliteration, onomatopoeia and repetition to give an identity to characters. Throughout the story, Mewburn refers to the mules clip-clopping, Melu clop-clipping, Goat clit-clattering and Bull stomp-stamping. Combining these features helps to create an identity for the characters in the story and adds humour to their forms of travel. “Characters can become friends to child readers, so it is important that characters contribute to the enjoyment of the story.” (Blakeney-Williams, 2011, p.41). Mewburn has created the enjoyment of characters through using humour, alliteration, onomatopoeia and strong verbs to give them an identity that appeals to children. “They always clip-clopped in the same direction” is far more interesting compared to “They always walked in the same direction.” This makes the story much more appealing, especially for children. The repetition of these also help children to predict the text and encourages reader participation (Blakeney-Williams, 2011). This is a common feature among award winning picture books, which will be a contributing factor to why Melu won the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Award. Using this combination of features, Mewburn is also educating the audience on what sounds certain animals make when they are walking.This is a fun and creative way for children to learn about animals.
Kyle Mewburn uses strong verbs throughout the story. This adds interest to the story and also encourages children to use strong verbs in their own writing, therefore helping to develop their written literacy skills. Mewburn uses appropriate...