The Postmodern Picture Book Essay

2093 words - 8 pages

This assignment will begin by defining and looking at the history of the postmodern picture book. It will examine what defines these books and how it combines text, images, and paratext creating a story which has meaning for both adults and children. Analysing the picturebook ‘Voices in the Park’, by Anthony Browne will illustrate the use of text, images, and parody; also it is a good example of intertextuality and non-linear. It will use the postmodern picturebook ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak to analyse the basis for their appeal to different age groups, looking in particular at their design and use of space. The assignment will conclude by identifying the elements needed for a successful postmodern picture book and how they appeal to both adult and children.

To define the term postmodern is very difficult, we can start off by saying it is representative of now, of today’s society. Bette Goldstone in, ‘Postmodern Experiments,’ describes it as being an example of societies ethical values, bestowing this to future generations. Goldstone recognises picture books as giving the author and reader a stage to be able to interpret the stories through the flexibility of pictures and words. Picturebooks are rapidly developing into a more, ‘Sophisticated genre,’ than has been before, (Goldstone, 2008, p.321).
A postmodern picture book is a specific genre of picture books. They are seen as being different from anything that came before; it could be described as requiring the reader's involvement with constructing the meaning of the text and imagery. Many of the books have little text and allow the reader and illustrations to tell the story as with, ‘Re-Zoom,’ by Istvan Banyai which has no text but is described by Goldstone, ‘That within the mundane and obvious are exciting possibilities that await discovery.’ (Goldstone, 2008, p.326). Anthony Browne goes onto describe picturebooks as, ‘The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader's imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book.' (Browne, 2010, cited: Children’s Laureate).

There is no defined time when the first postmodern picturebooks arrived on bookshelves. Goldstone sees the postmodern picturebook really beginning to make a statement, ‘In the last three decades, picturebooks have become ‘increasingly experimental.’ (Goldstone, 2008, p.321). In the next paragraph I will go on to discuss this in more detail. This experimental stage is helping to develop the picture book for both children and adult. Picturebooks are looked at from different view points, including adults and children but also; Martin Salisbury recognises the picturebook from an art perspective, it presents a good introduction for children into the world of art also appealing to adults who can associate with art, (Salisbury, DVD2). He sees Anthony Browne’s books as being too literal in their context and this is why Browne’s work in...

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