Napoleon and the Battle of the Bunnies

article by Mina , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning about the way authors and illustrators use visual storytelling so that I can more effectively communicate ideas through illustrations and visual techniques.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify and discuss similarities and differences between styles and techniques used in wordless picture books
  • I can break a text into relevant plot points to tell a story with illustrations
  • I can create my own wordless picture book based on a text
  • I can give feedback to a partner and improve my own work based on feedback.


Essential knowledge:

Prior to the lesson you may wish to watch The School Magazine video for the English Textual Concept of Genre to assist students in considering what the features are of the genre of wordless picture books. Visual techniques used in this lesson are also available in the English Syllabus Glossary to help clarify definitions for students as needed.


Understanding text:

After reading the story, discuss the concept of visual storytelling and ask students to recall any wordless picture books they may be familiar with. Select at least two of the following storybook videos to watch to allow students to analyse the techniques used in telling a story with illustrations only:


Compare and contrast the books you selected, by discussing:

  • The styles of the illustrations that were used
  • The plot points and how the illustrations communicated them to the audience
  • The visual techniques to tell the story (e.g. close ups, framing, long shot).


If you have any wordless books available in the classroom or library such as titles by Jeannie Baker or Shaun Tan, provide these to students to analyse and refer back to as needed throughout the task.


Creating text:

Inform students that they will be creating their own wordless picture book to tell the story of Napoleon and the Battle of the Bunnies. To help them start planning, collaboratively create a list of plot points that can be illustrated to tell the story. For example:

  • Napoleon and other military men are gathered together, feeling confident about the rabbit hunt
  • The cages containing the rabbits are placed on the edge of a grassy field
  • The confused rabbits run towards the men
  • The men start laughing
  • The rabbits crowd around the men and start nibbling and gnawing at their boots
  • The men grab sticks and chase the rabbits
  • The coachmen try to scare the rabbits away with their bullwhips
  • The rabbits begin climbing the men’s legs and even hop on their heads and shoulders
  • The men drop to their knees, screaming
  • Napoleon flees to his carriage and the rabbits follow him. He doesn’t calm down until he is far away from the chaos
  • The rest of the men flee the field to get away from the rabbits.


Discuss how visual techniques could be used to communicate important aspects of each scene. Suggestions may include:

  • Long shots to show the field and give readers an idea of the volume of rabbits that were released
  • Close up shots to show emotion (e.g., confidence, confusion, fear) and action (e.g., a rabbit gnawing on a man’s boot, rabbits climbing up legs and onto heads and shoulders)
  • Foreground and background to focus on particular detail such as the chaos behind Napoleon as he flees in his carriage.

Following this, students should create a brainstorm of their book. The book itself may be created with paper or digitally using a program such as Canva or Google Slides. To create their brainstorm, student should write a list of the scenes they are going to depict through illustrations, ensuring that their choices effectively tell the story from beginning to end. They should plan out their illustrations for each scene and consider which visual technique they will use.


Once they feel confident in their plan, they may wish to start with some rough sketches and should then begin illustrating their book layout. Once completed, students should pair up and swap their books with their partner. Feedback should be given to encourage students to make improvements as required (e.g. adding more detail, ensuring the illustrations adequately tell the story) before submitting their final draft.


Assessment for/of/as learning:

Create a kahoot to share with the class to create a class quiz to assess the children’s understanding of the content focused on in this lesson. Questions to include:

  • Long shots help to create a sense of volume and the enormous number of animals. True or False
  • Close up shots to show emotion help to show emotion and give a sense of proximity for the reader. True or False.
  • Using the Foreground or Background help the illustrator to focus on important detail in the story. True or False
  • Subtle but important details can be included in the Foreground or Background. True or False.