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Visual texts related to cultural interaction

Illustration from 'The Rabbits'. Text reads 'They didn't live in the trees, like we did. They made their own houses. We couldn't understand the way they talked.

Illustration from 'The Rabbits': ‘The Building of the Houses’, acrylic, gouache, and coloured pencil. Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.

Visual texts are a useful springboard for discussing cultural interaction with students. 'The Rabbits' is a sophisticated picture book that can be used as a powerful visual tool for discussing cultural interaction and colonisation.

'The Rabbits' — a moving allegory of colonisation

'The Rabbits', by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, draws students into a story of cultural interaction that begins with curiosity and moves towards a darker reality as the power balances shifts.

More on using visual-language texts — from Edutopia

Activity

Explore the techniques that Shaun Tan uses to portray the relationship between the rabbits and the other creatures in the story. Examples include the way the illustrator has used:

  • colour
  • scale
  • lines and angles
  • metaphors and symbols
  • words.

Discuss the challenges that the arrival of the rabbits presented to the creatures already living on the land and the changing experiences of the groups in the book as they interact with each other.

Discuss the ways that different creatures in the book interact with the environment. What relationship, if any, is there between the way they relate to the environment and the way they relate to (or with) other creatures?