The Tunnel

The TunnelThe story is about a mean brother, Jack, and a fearful sister, Rose, who go on a journey through a tunnel to another world, and return as friends. Throughout the story there are intertextual references to the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood.

The front cover of the book shows a person in red going into a dark tunnel, leaving behind an open book of what seems to be fairy tales. Due to previous experiences and stereotypical views of gender, the implied reader will most likely fill

The TunnelThe story is about a mean brother, Jack, and a fearful sister, Rose, who go on a journey through a tunnel to another world, and return as friends. Throughout the story there are intertextual references to the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood.The front cover of the book shows a person in red going into a dark tunnel, leaving behind an open book of what seems to be fairy tales. Due to previous experiences and stereotypical views of gender, the implied reader will most likely fill in the gaps with the person in the tunnel being a girl, probably the main character, and imagine the tunnel leading to adventure or another world. If the reader knows the story of Alice in Wonderland or Little Red Riding Hood, they may have these stories in mind when reading the book.The endpapers show floral wallpaper on the verso and brick walls on the recto. The book of fairy tales, which is a pattern in the book, is placed alone on the verso at the beginning of the book, but is put with the football on the recto at the end of the book. This may be as a symbol of Rose's journey from comfort and fearful safety, to adventure and risk, as well as a symbol for her relationship with Jack.There is a lot to be said about the first doublespread where the story begins. The language element of "once upon a time" builds upon the implied reader's previous experience with fairy tales, and indicates that this story lends other elements from the genre. Rose and Jack are also introduced, although their names are not actually mentioned until the very last doublespread of the book. They are introduced as being different in every way, where Rose spends her time alone and inside whilst her brother plays outside with his friends. This shows in the illustrations as well. Rose is on the left hand side, which symbolises home and the known as opposed to Jack who is on the right hand side of adventure and risk. The

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colours of Rose's clothes are soft and dim, whereas Jack's clothes are bright primary colours associated with exhilaration and discovery. If one draws the structural skeleton on the small pictures on the recto, one finds that Jack stands tall in the middle of his frame, showing him as powerful and secure, whilst Rose is placed in the bottom left corner, and actually the book of fairy tales is at the centre of her frame. The background also indicates that they may live in a bad neighbourhood, with tall buildings, broken windows and a football goal that is just painted lines on a brick wall. In other words, this spread introduces the characters in a very stereotypical way based on gender. "To be a woman is to know fear" (Dunham, 2016) and in a bad neighbourhood she spends her days quietly reading, whilst her strong and powerful brother "(…) play[s] outside with his friends, laughing and shouting, throwing and kicking, roughing and tumbling".The next doublespread, with all its references to the story of Little Red Riding Hood, has already been analysed in a grid on Padlet.The verso on the next doublespread shows the distance between the siblings, notice the salt and pepper shaker, and the window, which would usually show the horizon and adventure, is facing a brick wall. Jack's demeaning pointing repeats on the recto, where their mother is sending them outside, perhaps showing where he learnt to treat his sister this way. In the following doublespread they are standing in what looks like a landfill, perhaps representing their bad neighbourhood or even a comment on environmental issues. The text drives the story forward to the discovery of the tunnel, where the journey begins and Rose faces her fears and goes in to save her brother. The stones around his feet transform into flowers.The final doublespread is where, as previously mentioned, their names are finally revealed. I think this is symbolic of the journey they have been on. Not only did it improve their relationship, but it helped them discover their own identities and grow as people. Much like the reader may do through reading this book by learning more about sibling relationships, stereotypical gender roles, fear and bravery.

Kendall (1999) refers to Graham who "(…) highlights the skill with which [Anthony Browne] enables children to explore relationships and society as well as consider moral ideas and values" (p. 66). This is certainly true for the meaning of The Tunnel. Browne's brilliant use of the multi-modal potential in picturebooks also makes his books great for reading lessons about picturebook codes and symbolism.

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Category: Review

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