A Wild Animal Inside My House: An Analysis of the Children’s Picturebook Svenn the Otter and the Magic Rock by Espen Villseth and Anita Sletten
Keywords:children’s picture books, Svenn, the otter, English Language Teaching (ELT), multimodality
Svenn, a wild otter, has become an Instagram celebrity with over 140,000 followers around the world. Svenn has his own YouTube channel and Facebook page. Moreover, in December 2020, NRK, an influential Norwegian TV channel, released a series entitled “Oteren Svenn” (Svenn, the Otter), consisting of ten episodes. In addition to all of this, Svenn has his own picturebook for children, which is entitled Svenn the Otter and the Magic Rock (Villseth & Sletten, 2020). This article presents the picturebook and analyzes three of its significant spreads. The aim is to uncover aspects of the sociocultural context in which Svenn – along with other characters – is portrayed by images and verbal language in the book, and to provide a short discussion of how the book may be used in English Language Teaching (ELT). Our analysis builds on tools from multimodal text analysis (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2005; van Leeuwen, 2005) and Narrative Intelligence (Mateas & Senger, 2003). The analysis focuses on the significance of the picturebook to represent participants in actions, the relationship between the book’s participants and the reader, and the value of presenting images and verbal text together. Our analysis also touches on some implications for ELT, on the potential that visual literacy can have in language teaching.
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