Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks
Creative and critical responses to visual texts
It is often assumed that picturebooks are for very young readers because of their emphasis on the illustrations and their scarcity of text; however, there are increasing numbers of picturebooks where the age of the implied reader is questionable. These are picturebooks whose controversial subject matter and unconventional, often unsettling style of illustration challenge the reader, pushing them to question and probe deeper to understand what the book is about. In addition to the book challenging the reader, the reader often challenges the book in an attempt to understand what is being said.
These increasingly popular picturebooks work on many different levels; they are truly polysemic and worthy of in-depth analysis. They push the reader to ask questions and in many instances are intrinsically philosophical, often dealing with fundamental life issues.
Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks examines these unconventional, non-conformist picturebooks, considering what they are, their audience and their purpose. It also considers:
- Children’s and adults’ thoughts on these kinds of picturebooks.
- How challenging and unsettling wordless picturebooks can play with the mind and promote philosophical thought.
- What creates non-conformity and strangeness … is it the illustrations and their style, the subject matter or a combination of both?
- Why certain countries create, promote and accept these picturebooks more than others.
- Why certain picturebooks are censored and what factors are in play when these decisions are made.
- The role of publishers in translating and publishing these picturebooks.
- Children’s creative and critical responses to strange, unsettling and often disturbing visual texts.
This inspiring and thought-provoking volume explores the work of a number of highly respected, international picturebook experts and includes an exclusive interview with the legendary Klaus Flugge, Managing Director of Andersen Press, one of the few remaining independent children’s book publishers in England.
It is an indispensable reference for all interested in or working with picturebooks, including researchers, students in higher and teacher education, English advisors/inspectors, literacy consultants and classroom teachers.
Table of Contents
Children’s thoughts on challenging and controversial picturebooks Adults’ thoughts on challenging and controversial picturebooks Part One: Challenging and controversial picturebooks: What are they and who are they for? 1. Picturebooks as Strange, Challenging and Controversial Texts Janet Evans (Independent Scholar, England) 2. The Scandal of the Commonplace: The Strangeness of Bestselling Picturebooks Perry Nodelman (The University of Winnipeg, Canada) 3. From Traditional Tales, Fairy Stories and Cautionary Tales to Controversial Visual Texts: Do we need to be Fearful? Sandra Beckett (Canada) 4. Who are these picturebooks for?: Controversial Picturebooks And The Question Of Audience Ase Marie Ommundsen (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway) Part Two: Controversy and ambiguity in the art of the visual 5. Fusion Texts, the new kid on the block: What are they and where have they come from? Janet Evans (Independent Scholar, England) 6. "These books made me really curious". How visual explorations shape young readers' taste Marnie Campagnaro ( University of Padua, Italy) 7. Beware of the fox! Emotion and Deception in Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer & Jörg Meibauer (Germany) 8. Fear and Strangeness in Picturebooks: Fractured Fairy Tales, Graphic Knowledge and Teachers’ Concerns Elizabeth Marshall (Simon Fraser University, Canada) Part Three: Creative, Critical and Philosophical Responses to Challenging Picturebooks 9. What’s Real And What’s Not: Playing With The Mind In Wordless Picturebooks Sandie Mourao (Independent Scholar, Portugal) 10. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf: Responses to the portrayal of wolves in picturebooks Kerenza Ghosh (University of Roehampton, England) 11. Filling the Gaps: Exploring the Writerly Metaphors in Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree Sylvia Pantaleo (University of Victoria, Canada) 12. Could This Happen To Us?: Responding To Issues Of Migration In Picturebooks Janet Evans (Independent Scholar, England) Part Four Thoughts from a children’s book publisher 13. The Legendary Klaus Flugge: Controversial picturebooks and their place in contemporary society Klaus Flugge in conversation with Janet Evans
Janet Evans is an Independent Scholar, freelance Literacy and Educational Consultant and former Senior Lecturer in Education at Liverpool Hope University, UK.
"This collection of essays achieves a number of significant contributions to the field of picturebook studies...complex and delicate exploration of many rich and demanding topics. It is a worthy addition to the shelves of picturebook studies."- Margaret Mackey, UKLA
"As a reviewer of children's books, I found this book fascinating. […] It certainly gives teachers and librarians food for thought." – Parents in Touch, UK
"Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks is a fascinating and illuminating collection of work that makes us re-evaluate child and adult responses to both word and image. As ever, Janet Evans' style ably demystifies her scholarship and promotes the reader's ability to interpret her subject. As a result the book should find a wide and appreciative audience amongst all those interested in picture books and their role, and will be of especial value to teachers and students in schools, and in further and higher education." - Bridget Carrington, IBBYLink, UK
"Even before I started to read Part I of Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks, I was
hooked! Janet Evans has very cleverly not only chosen eminent picturebook theorists from
around the world to contribute to this exciting and very readable book, she has also
designed it in such a way that one is plunged into the world of children’s acceptance of
complex narratives as a precursor to more theoretical input." – Penni Cotton, CLELE Journal
"This collection of essays achieves a number of significant contributions to the field of picturebook studies.
Evans serves us well with this display of children’s voices raised in discussion of contemporary politics." - Margaret Mackey, Literacy UKLA
"This is a book that introduces the reader to a whole new world of picturebooks and raises the following query: if picturebooks are a safe way for children to explore the real world, then, perhaps our picturebooks need to reflect reality a little more closely?" - Lucy Kelly, Bristol University
"Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks leaves the reader with many inspiring and provocative ideas" - Krystyna Zabawa, International Research Society for Children's Literature (IRSCL)
"Picturebooks are often assumed to be for the very young; however, this edit-ed volume by Janet Evans shows that picturebooks and other visual texts with challenging and controversial topics and illustrations provide rich opportunities for responses by readers of all ages, including young children, who are able to derive rich meanings from such complicated texts. These 'unconventional, non-conformist' books push all readers to question deep philosophical and psychological issues and are reflecting our post-modern and increasingly diverse world." - Donna Sayers Adomat, Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature