Using the peter and jane books, I have created my own story to reflect modern day issues. I used the text that is already in the books, but just let a couple of words, a sentence or a few lines to manipulate the story to tell my own message. Following a lot of research, I made my story about domestic abuse. I realised that without knowing we teach children that domestic abuse is ok, we teach girls that if boys are mean to them it means they like them and we teach boys not ‘to be like a girl’ implying that they are the weaker sex and that men have power and strength over them. Because of these things I want my book to be a metaphor for the way that we teach children domestic violence is the norm and is ok. The book will stay in the form of a children’s book but will tell the story of domestic abuse representing what we teach children. I used the technique of Cristina DeMidell to change the text in the book, i used a correctional roller to take words out, its obvious that Ive changed the words but I like this aspect, I like that the eminence of the other words are still there, keeping the element that it is made for children. It represents that this is the underlying message in the original story and I have just highlighted it.
It was very hard to choose which book to use as I looked through so many, It was narrowed down by how much text some of them had in them. The ‘Peter and Jane’ books go up in stages, they were designed to teach children it read so the first books have very little text in them, in the very first set of books they have no more than around 10 words per pages, these were impossible to use as they just had too few words to make a story out of them. These were the problems with the first few sets of books, up to around the 4th set. After that they had enough words that I could remove text and still make coherent sentences. It then came down to choosing the best story and the book that had the right words to make my story out of. The choice of book was also effected by the layout of the book and how the illustrations interact with the text. I don’t want any of the original art on the pages of the book so some of the books would have been hard to use as the images interlinked with the text and spread across both pages. After reading around 25 ‘Peter and Jane’ books and experimenting with removing text, I chose book 5a ‘Where we go’. I chose this book because it had words and phrases that I could manipulate to suit my own story and it was the book that I could picture my own story fitting in with a clear narrative.
Once I had chosen the book, I had to decide how to change the text and what to change to it to. As mentioned before I changed the text using a roller tip-ex, Not only was this in the style of my studied artist Cristina DeMidell, I found it was also the neatest and easiest way to alter the text. I also decided to add some blank pages into the story to represent a break in the story.
The first page of the book simply says, “you will be at home. Says Daddy” This is the first time we hear the voice of the domineering main male character in this story. Already he is asserting his authority over the female character by telling her she ‘will be at home’. There is no response from the mother as I want it to come across that she is in fear and submissive. This text will be accompanied by an image of the male character, it will be dark and dramatic and in the style of Donna Ferrato.
I will then have a blank page to signify the start of the story. The first page was almost an introduction, just get a feel for the book and the tone of the story. It was to introduce the male character and show his authority over the whole story and the characters in it.
The next page has the words “‘Come on’ He says. ‘Yes’ says Mummy.” This short conversation reinforces the authority the father has and the submissive behaviour of the mother. She lives in fear and does as she is told in hope of not upsetting him. This text will go along side an image of the male leaving a room and staring at the depressed looking woman. The next page introduces the children into the situation with the words “‘Where are mummy and daddy?’ says Jane.” This text not only introduces the children but shows their first awareness that something is not right. The image that accompanies this text will be a split screen, the top image will be of the mother and father upstairs, the father will have the mother pinned again the wall, she will look scared and he will have anger in his face. The lower image will be the children at the table looking concerned for the welfare of their mother, but still unaware of the situation up stairs.
The next pages say, “The man works and he likes to talk about it.” I liked this phrase as it shows the ego of the male character, it shows his misogynistic attitude and the way he feels powerful over the rest of the family. He works therefore he is in control and in charge of the family. The photo to go with this will be the father smoking and drinking and laughing, exerting his masculinity, boosting his own ego. The next image will be a following on from this and it will be and image of the man angrily leaning over the mother still with drink in hand, anger often come out more after alcohol consumption, this will depict this. After the drink the woman is in more danger than usual. The text to go with this will simply say, “Danger, Yes Says Mummy,” she know that she is not safe and living in fear but she can’t escape.
The next page will be blank to create anticipation and show a break in the story, it represents the passing of time. Page 18 has the text “Jane and Peter help Mummy. Daddy wants to sit by the tree.” This text show the bond between the mother and children and the distancing of the father. It also shows the gender stereotype that it is the mothers role to raise the children and the father plays a less important role. Yet he is more important in the family hierarchy and sees himself as too good to help the mother and children. The image with this page will be the father outside and the mother leading the children away. The text on the next page will say ‘Daddy “are you going to play with us?” the image accompanying this will be the child looking hopefully at the father as he looks away. Not only does the child want to build a relationship with their father, they are looking for his approval. This page really shows the way that children learn from their parents actions. The father doesn’t want to be a part of raising the children this is what the children will grow up thinking is normal.
The writing on page 22 will say, “all going down hill, says mummy”. The mother can see the relationship falling apart and she is starting to vocalise this as the children realise the father is not supportive. The image with this text will show the mother leading the children inside as the father looks up at her angrily and she looks disappointed. The next pages show the father truly loosing his rage as he attacks the mother in the kitchen in front of the children. The children look as terrified as the mother and the girl says “Pull him peter, pull him please” and the mother replies “yes, pull him now peter” ‘Peter pulls and pulls’. This will show the children desperately trying to save their mother from the grip of their father.
The next pages will be blank to once again show the passing of time and a break in the story. The next image we see will be the father pulling out the mothers chair, it seems he is trying to make it up to her but you can see the fear and intimidation the mothers face still. The words simply say, “Daddy pulls out a chair for mummy”.
The father then takes a seat at the table and stares at the mother and she looks down with her head hanging. The text reads, “‘You are not going.’ Said Daddy.” We then see the father stand up and lean on the table with his hands on the surface with fear in his eyes. The words say, “Daddy gets up from his chair.” The next image we see is that of the parents in bed and the mother cradling the father in her arms as he weeps, we finally see the father show emotion but is he just trying to incite gilt into the mother for wanting to leave, and is it too little too late? The words with this image just say “keep by me”.
There is then another break in the story. The next pages intertwine as the first says “As Daddy looks out of the window, and we see the far downstairs ding this at the table, the next page says “Mummy gets her bag”. With this we see the mother gathering her belongings in the bedroom. As we reach the climax of the story we see an image of the father heading up the stairs towards the bedroom where the mother is. The text reads “Here comes Daddy,’ Says Jane.”
Then there is a blank to build anticipation, We then see the mother with a black eye and beaten face as the father gets lead out of the room by police officers. The innocence of the children remains despite being present for the whole unfolding of events, to show this the words read “‘Look Daddy is going to talk to that policeman,’ Peter says.” We see the father being pulled out further a step text says “danger, men.’ This shows the fear in the mother as well as the way that we teach young girls to be afraid of men and a man strength from a young age. The final page of the story shows the mother hugging her two children with tears in her eyes, tears of relief, she says “‘Come on’ says mummy. ‘I have to take you now.’