Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It's Writing Wednesday. Having on earlier posts talked about the basic plot types, now it's time to turn the idea of the traditional writing patterns a little on its ear. Postmodern picture books do that. These are books, generally published in the last couple of decades, in which the expected plot structures may not be there and in which the reader may be challenged in new ways. Look at the library for David Wiesner's The Three Pigs. Even if our own stories take a more traditional story telling route, it's good to understand other ways of making a picture book. Read an article with a discussion of this here. In a related item, an interesting article was published in the New York Times about Spike Jonze and his upcoming movie version of Where the Wild Things Are. His vision for the film seems to have a lot in common with the postmodern approach. It's a longish article, here, but it has many interesting bits and pieces, especially if you like movies, Sendak books, or reading about the creative process. That should cover most of us, I think.


Sarah said...

I wonder if these new ways of telling stories are for the adult readers as much as for the children listening. I know surprises help make a story memorable for me. And fresh twists help at bed time when you are more tired than your children! Kids just don't have the same experiences to realize the variations and tweakings of old stories. But they definitely know funny... and they know what stories Mom and Dad will read again and again and again.

Andrea Zimmerman said...

Yes, I think you're right about the adult appeal. And these books certainly could spark conversations with children about what's going on inside the book, too, don't you think? Maybe especially for older kids. I was wondering if the majority of these books are created by author/illustrators who conceive the whole thing from the start.

Beth the Determined said...

Yes, Andrea, I think the majority of these are illustrator created (all three of Peggy Rathmann's books are listed). If the pictures' meanings are opposite or separate from what the text says, then it's hard for an author to explain that to an editor without resorting to lots of parenthetical art directions, which editors claim not to want.

The mocking and winking at the reader is a lot like The Daily Show and Colbert Report, where what is being said is not really what is meant. It's a more sophisticated humor.

Andrea Zimmerman said...

True. There are so many different types of picture books written for such different audiences. That's one of the things I love about them.

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