Discuss themes, issues, and or concepts, ideas (at least two) and literacy techniques and devices (at least two) in this text. Include page references from your novel and readings e.g., Winch et al. 2014; etc)

Taj and the great camel trek describe a story of explorers, including Taj, with his donkey accompanying Ernest Giles, an explorer, in a journey across the Australian deserts. The explorers are on a journey that faces dangerous challenges of poisonous snakes, wild dogs, scorpions, and others as they travel interacting with people from multiple indigenous groups. The author, Rosanne Hawke utilizes several themes while describing this adventurous yet risky journey. Among these explorers are nationals of Afghanistan and England who exercise different cultures and behavior ideologies. This represents themes of identity and culture, whereby, although they can converse using the English language, these explorers are members of different cultures exercising different lifestyles. More so, Taj travels with his father, Padar, who reveals the whereabouts of Taj’s mother to Taj. Upon receiving the sad news that his mother died quite long ago, Taj is immensely affected such that he continuously grieves for his mother. Here, the author identifies the book with themes of family, relationships, and grief. Their various interactions and interpretations with indigenous people as they approach their destination varies among their background cultures.

The author also utilizes several literary techniques and devices in describing the processes and activities of the story in the book. Visual imagery is an example. With the desert atmosphere setting, it is easier for the author to explain some of the usual activities and challenges that these explorers face throughout their quest. For instance, the distraction by sand storms that plague their vision portrays a clear image of the atmosphere experienced in the desert. Another important technique that the author utilizes is a vivid description. This is whereby Rosanne Hawke explains each important event happening during the journey in greater detail. For instance, in explaining the relationships between these explorers, especially between Taj and his father and the entire crew with indigenous people, she extends an understanding of relationship as a theme throughout this book. According to (Sharp, Bransford and Goldman, 1995), such use of visual imagery accompanied by a greater understanding of the characters enriches the student’s experience in understanding an entire flow of events. Similarly, these are among essential elements that a good picture book aims at adhering to, to paint a permanent picture in the minds of its readers.


Discuss your involvement in being a participant in the literature circle strategy; insights, reflection on modes (face to face and online) and the consequent concerns/understandings of using literature circles with students in the primary years (references).

In this study, I engaged in the analysis of aesthetic and critical interpretation by the readers. These three interpretations increased the level of interaction and engagement as a peer in delving deeper into interpreting the picture book. For instance, the analytical instance in interpreting how Taj reacts to news of the death of his mother and further reactions to the great camel trek instilled a different way for me to see and interpret things differently (p. 62). According to (Cameron, 2012), teachers under such a study are exposed to new ideas and a conceptual perspective thinking of how picture books are interpreted by their readers, who in most cases are the children. More so, the use of literature circles proves its benefits in several ways.

To begin with, literature circles instill a form of peer pressure characterized by the readers’ ability to choose a convenient picture book, engage through the reading process and further compliment research work related to the book. The technique creates a productive process whereby the students take responsibility for their reading and interpretation of the book. This is a helpful technique especially, taking into consideration, the use of teachers in practice trying to analyze a picture book, for that matter. The appropriate support and accommodations alongside the comprehension of students in this process are likely to improve. The process by which students are engaged defines the strategies of literature circles.

Also, the two modes of face-to-face communication and online communication help define the literary landscape. These two modes prove critical in defining the level of interaction as well as the moral behavior of students within or outside the class. Although the two prove valuable during processes of identifying and interpretation of picture books, I prefer a face-to-face mode of communication to the use of technology. My reasoning relies on the deeper understanding that comes with the physical steps of analyzing texts. Consequently, this preferred mode helped improve my understanding of how literature circles match students with their appropriate books. (Zhang, 2010) describes that this process of matching students to their preferred books is dynamic and requires a considerable amount of planning and execution.


Minimum of 2 references other than Winch et al., 2014 and the novel read

Include references in both components

Cameron, S., Murray, M., Hull, K., & Cameron, J. (2012). Engaging fluent readers using literature circles. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 20(1)

Sharp, D. L., Bransford, J. D., Goldman, S. R., Risko, V. J., Kinzer, C. K., & Vye, N. J. (1995). Dynamic visual support for story comprehension and mental model building by young, at-risk children. Educational Technology Research and Development, 43(4), 25-42.

Zhang, L. J. (2010). A dynamic metacognitive systems account of Chinese university students’ knowledge about EFL reading. Tesol Quarterly, 44(2), 320-353.






Text for close study


Stage and year:


Identify the text type (informative, persuasive, imaginative)

A brief overview of the central themes, concepts, and ideas addressed in the text

The ‘Red piano’ can be described as an imaginative narrative. The author describes a young girl’s passion to play the piano and in the third-person state. The young girl is faced with multiple challenges in a country that is experiencing a historic turmoil and is strongly against this musical use of art. More so, the author utilizes an emotive kind of language compared to using real historic data to explain the cultural revolution throughout this part of the world. In this book, we identify themes of freedom and self-expression in explaining the challenges that musicians and pianists face, since they are termed as criminals in this illustrated society.  The author incorporates the use of internal focalization of storytelling in bringing out the determination of the musicians to overcome these challenges that are shrouded by a mystery in the use of musical art among the Chinese. According to (Hillesund, 2010), the power of a picture book to immerse its readers to the story content combines a familial level of experience and sophistication.
Visual elements (using visual metalanguage)

Several visual elements have contributed to an easy interpretation of ‘The Red Piano’ in serving its audience. These elements range from the use of color used to describe the picture book to texts and symbols incorporated in the Chinese language and culture while utilizing several themes. Initially, the title of the book prepares its readers for a musical journey of hardships, whereby it takes determination and consistency for a cultural revolution to occur. The pictures on the cover page further support that this is going to be one journey of hardships. For instance, the picture illustrations of a girl carrying a load balance of containers in despair sets the audience for a journey of mystery that will only require some level of perseverance to go through.

Similarly, the illustrator of the book utilizes a set of primary colors as a visual device common to the Chinese culture to describe the ambiance of the entire plot. These colors include red, grey and black as used in the book. The red color coincides with the term Red China and although used to describe some form of communism, it symbolically represents themes of happiness brought by the rising of the sun. On the other hand, the grey color symbolizes darkness representing the character’s journey of hardships. These colors coincide with the mood changes in the plot. More so, such techniques utilize the main concepts of the plot’s narrative in the book. The narrative is presented in such a way that the reader can create a bigger picture of the events taking place during these historic times of the Cultural Revolution in China. All these techniques supplement the use of popular themes that the author integrates to try and explain. Take, for instance, the popular themes of ambition to inspire the readers to remain focused on what they wish to achieve in their lives. According to (Akers, Grosso, and Snell, 2016), not only do these techniques maintain the audience’s attention but they also enrich the reader’s understanding in terms of interpreting the message.

Linguistic structures and features

Structure, text features (headings, subheadings) key vocabulary, grammatical elements, social purpose (using examples from the book)

Orientation – Main characters include: a young girl and her piano, Mother Han

Preview of challenges – The current culture and society are against the use of musical art within the camp.

Complication – The young girl’s piano is smashed into pieces and she is punished to a lengthy sentence.

Resolution – The death of Mao contributes to the girl’s release and her resilience pays off

Verb groups- blighted, eerie, ‘lost in her blue jacket’, ‘warmth returns’

Etymology: Historical Film – a historical film covering China’s Cultural Revolution.


Minimum of 2 references other than Winch et al., 2014 and the picture book used.

Akers, L., Del Grosso, P., Snell, E. K., Atkins-Burnett, S., Wasik, B., Carta, J., … & Monahan, S. (2016). Tailored teaching: emerging themes from the literature on teachers’ use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction. NHSA Dialog, 19(2).

Hillesund, T. (2010). Digital reading spaces: How expert readers handle books, the Web and electronic paper.


Lesson 1 Focus: Visual Literacy

Time: 30 mins max

Reader Role: Text Critic, Code Breaker
Reading Outcome: EN3-3A, EN3-5A
Content descriptor/s:

EN3-3A utilizes the importance of using multimedia elements such as animations and cinematography techniques

EN3-5A describes the protocol in which a wide range of texts is used in a book or a film.


The overall purpose of the learning sequence

Students will be able to understand the comprehensive use of imaginary texts as well as interpret them with the use of imagery, e.g. through personification alongside several sound devices including alteration


What happens during the sequence? (be explicit)

·         Illustrate a map of China to students and its distance from Australia

·         Ask the students to identify this hemisphere and how long the distance from China to Australia could take.

·         Come up with a Venn diagram of two circles labeled Chinese history and current China. Add a note box to the diagram for the teacher’s notes. This illustration will bring out knowledge about the Mao cultural revolution.

·         In case, you have Chinese students, prepare them to describe to the class some of the Chinese texts and characters with their meanings. Otherwise, prepare the students to write Chinese characters, especially, using their names.

·         Use another autobiographical such as ‘The Chinese Cinderella’ to explain how the picture book is written in the third person state.

Roll out sheets of paper to students to allow them to write responses in full sentences. The double-page by page questions are drawn from texts and activities in the book. Later, the students engage in a discussion giving their responses.



·         How can we interpret how the author associates with the story in the book? In what persona should we look at the book’s narrative.

·         With regards to the story, identify whether you as the reader can predict the author’s illustrations to identify whether your level of comprehension is closer to what the author is trying to bring out.

·         Illustrate the setting of the story.

·         How can you relate to the characters and events of the story? What similarities and differences do you make from these relations?

·         Explain how the characters in the story connect as illustrated in the picture book.


Partner work

·         Discuss your reactions towards the ambitions and human resilience themes as described in the book as a pair. Identify similar reactions and email the results to the teacher.

·         Share your reactions as a pair with those of another pair. Compare the characters of the story and your different opinions towards them.


·         Help the students email their results to the teacher and the teacher will pick and list common interpretations identified by the students.





Lesson 2 Focus: Language Structure and features

Time: 30 mins max

Reader Role: Text user, Text participant
Reading Outcome: EN3-3A
Content descriptor/s:

Identify how the use of different texts are used to analyze the overall connection of the entire story and how this connection is easily interpreted.

The overall purpose of the learning sequence

The students will identify the texts, especially of Chinese origin and their interpretations brought about by the author in the story. This will also help in identifying the multiple themes utilized in the book.



What happens during the sequence?

Display the columns showing the similarities and differences identified by the students relating to the cultural revolution. Enquire from the students: What is the main purpose of the author in describing this historical revolution to us?

Make a table similar to the one below and help them fill in the rows to identify with perspectives taken from the story in the book.

What knowledge do you currently have of the Chinese Historical culture? What would you want to know concerning Chinese Culture? What lessons did you draw from the historical cultural-revolution?
China’s Cultural Revolution occurred around 1966 to 1976, which defines the historic turmoil in China Who inspired the Cultural Revolution in China?

What were the main objectives of these great inspirations?


Human Resilience is an important skill

An ambition showed by the little girl character in the book


Group Work

Ask the class to fill in the table in different groups. Give examples of answers that you expect from them as illustrated in the table above. This will help learn the setting of China in Asia and the historical cultural-revolution as it occurred in China.


Fill in the table collectively as a class. Major your focus on how the students interpret the texts used in explaining events of the story.

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