Voices in the Park is a very well written picture book for both children and young adults. Anthony Browne’s book was published in 1999 and has been a top seller since. The book allows us to see life through each of the characters in the story.
This book belongs into the Contemporary Realistic Fiction genre:
• This genre is defined by a vivid, realistic setting; multidimensional, credible characters;
• Believable problems that are understood by the intended age group
• Voices in the Park satisfies these criteria. This is a plausible story that could happen in today’s world. An upper-class mother and son could walk their dog to the park and meet other people who may not be of the same socioeconomic status as they are.
• There are other parts of the story that qualify this text in this type of genre. This is a realistic occurrence that can happen daily, with easily understood problems for the reader. The characters in the story make it easy for children to relate to through use of language and how they interact with each other.
Browne attempts to further a reader’s ability to relate to the characters by portraying them as gorillas. How?
• If the characters would have been depicted as human, readers might refuse to relate to the characters due to preconceived bias about race, socioeconomic class and/or the sex of the characters.
• Reading with such prejudice could certainly limit a reader’s ability and/or willingness to make personal connections to the experiences of characters.
• When a reader is able to visualize the characters as animals, which lack certain human elements of socioeconomic status and gender roles, they will be more likely able to relate to them.
• The animal depictions also force readers to focus on other artistic elements that imply socioeconomic status and gender roles.
• The depiction of the mother character implies wealth, and stereotypical attitudes of wealthy women. The depiction of the father character implies poverty, and attitudes of poor men.
• The children seem to transcend gender stereotypes, as the boy takes on more of a female gender role. He is reluctant to play with the girl, and less outgoing. The girl wants to play with the boy, and is much more outgoing. She seems to convince the boy to play, which is not very characteristic of girls in most stories.
The text itself reads as four separate stories, each with its own voice. At the end he blends the voices to create one semi- ambiguous ending, letting the reader fill in the holes. The pictures do the same thing, relying on the reader to come up with the actual relevance.
Points of View
Each voice is told from the point of view of the characters throughout the story. By isolating each of these points of view, Browne allow the reader to see how each character perceives one another and what actually happened to each character in these missing pieces of the story.
• The first point of view that is shared is from the perspective of Charles' mother. Upon seeing the Smudge's father, she describes in the text as a frightful type. She calls Smudge's dog, Albert as a mongrel and even referred to Smudge as a, "very rough looking child" (Browne 6). Through her point of view, it clearly tells us that she looks down at these three because they look different than her. Possibly Charles' mother sees them of a lower socioeconomic class because the way that they are dressed or groomed. This is shown textually by negative words and attitude.
• From the second point of view told in the story, Smudge's father makes no mention of the other characters other than the fact that his daughter cheered him up and how he wishes he had half of the energy that the dog had. He is in his own little world throughout his turn in telling the story because he is focused on finding a job.
• From Charles' point of view,...