Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Only Child

Guojing (Author/Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 2015. 108 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9780553497045 (hardcover)
9780553497069 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Inspired by the author’s own childhood experience under China’s one-child policy, this wordless tale beautifully explores the joys of imagination and the challenges of loneliness.

Expertly rendered monochrome drawings in soft graphite effects depict a detailed world of urban China in the 1980s. The child is an adorably rotund, bun-faced little character, who, with stoic courage, negotiates a city bus and a magical cloud staircase alike.

The story unfolds at a leisurely pace; an abundance of panels allow for the full expression of the plot’s suspense and the child’s emotions. His surreal adventure in the sky includes a baby bear-like creature and a parental reindeer. One spread shows him floating through the night as he plays with soft, glowing stars. In the next, fear flickers across the friends’ faces as the sky opens, and they fall. Tender images of snuggles on a cloud reflect the story’s call for warmth, contact and affection. The joyful homecoming sequence also contains the sadness of parting with an imaginary friend. Reality returns—the child clutches a toy reindeer in his sleep—while the branches outside his window recall a silhouette of antlers. This rich tale is a marvel of imagination and execution.

  •  

    Discuss times when you have been lost. How did it feel? How did you deal with it? How did it end? Did you learn anything from your experience?

  •  

    Read until the child gets off of the bus in the middle of the forest. Predict how the story will unfold from there.

  •  

    The author uses the structures and features of graphic texts to extend the meaning of the story. Make a T-chart and list the features that stand out to you and explain their impact on the reader.

  •  

    Create speech bubbles for key points in the story. Identify the aspects of the illustrations that helped you decide which ones to include.

  •  

    Discuss what you like to do when you are alone.

  •  

    Did you ever get lost? How did you feel? Were you found by someone or did you have to find your own way back?

  •  Listen to the author’s note read aloud. How does it connect to your experience of getting lost?
  •  

    Go through the illustrations and discuss how the story unfolds. How does the lightness/darkness of the panels help you understand the story? Why do you think the author made some tiny pictures and some full-page or double-page spreads? How do they impact the meaning of the story?

  •  Choose spaces where you could add captions and speech bubbles to the story.
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Visual Arts