AT1 Entry #3 Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is a combination of words, images and shapes working together to help the reader make meaning from a story (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  Words and images function together contributing to meaning making (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

Clancy the Courageous Cow‘ is written and illustrated by Lachie Hume (2006) who was 12 years old at the time of the first draft. This book uses simplistic illustrations that directly relate to the words on the page, working alongside each other and contributing to easy meaning making. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  This aspect of the book makes it perfect for young readers who may not necessarily read fluently, enabling them to either follow on using the illustrations or simply tell their own version of the story.

This book has bright colourful illustrations on each page clearly setting the scene. Lachie has used three dominating colours throughout his story, including in the title.  The colours orange, black and white are used continually for the characters while green, grey and blue are used for the background, creating a repetitive pattern throughout the book, helping the reader to make meaning of the story.  The last page is particularly interesting.  The calf is born with all three colours, symbolising the acceptance and merging of the two groups.  The colouring of the sky is also interesting, intending to set the mood, support the writing and help young readers analyse the feelings envisioned by the author.  The sky starts off grey and stormy looking signifying the unhappiness of the characters, reinforced by the use of words including “stormy winter’s day” and “great disappointment” (Hume, 2006).  It gradually ends up a bright blue sky representing the happy ending, supported by words including “be cows together” and “beautiful summer’s day” (Hume, 2006).

The use of comparison in the illustrations emphasises the dominating characters portrayed as much larger than the others until the last page where the two end up the same size, presenting them as equals (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

Clancy the Courageous Cow‘ (Hume, 2006) uses cartoon conventions in the illustrations, speech bubbles and personification to help the reader draw on their own knowledge to decode the story and also adds an element of humor and fun to the story. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  There are a variety of examples of personification including the wrestling scene and Clancy using a bandage, paint and sugar to help him to fit in with the other cows (Hume, 2006).

Hume’s use of non-demanding pictures in ‘Clancy the Courageous Cow’ (2006) compliments the simple story line of acceptance.  The clever use of visual literacy gives a message to young people that whenever you are feeling left out, don’t try to change yourself, instead work towards finding a way to fit in with others, helping yourself to feel valuable and worthwhile.  I highly recommend reading this book, taking time to not only read the words but look at the pictures.

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Amazon. (Image), Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Angus & Robetson. (Image). Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Belvedere Designs. (Image).Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Hume, L. (2006). Clancy the courageous cow. Malvern, South Australia: Omnibus Books.

Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing & children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.


2 thoughts on “AT1 Entry #3 Visual Literacy

  1. Hi Fiona, my favourite part of this book was the final page when Clanga is illustrated with a mis-match of colours. I find it truly amazing that this book was written by a 12 year old boy. I think perhaps he was wise beyond his years.
    Loved your blog.

  2. Hi Fiona and thanks for your blog,

    You have identified many of the visual elements utilised in this book and provided good analyses of each, accompanied by clear examples from the text. Including the images to support these examples enhances your blog. You have used some literature to support your writing but it is confined to only one source and a wider range of literature would have strengthened your blog.

    Well done Fiona and I look forward to your final blog,


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