I absolutely adore picture books. We have literally hundreds at home, many of them mine, rather the children’s (especially the ridiculous number of Anthony Browne titles which grace our shelves). The dissertation for my MA was entitled ‘Complexity and Sophistication on Children’s Picture Books’. Seriously, I think I may have a problem!
I should clarify that by picture book, I mean a book which is defined as a fictional, illustrated book in which pictures are design vehicles for meaning, where text and art are integral aspects of an interdependent relationship.
The very wise Maurice Sendak once said “You cannot write for children. They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.” I am inclined to agree. Picture books, of which Sendak is famed, are often seen as an introduction to reading for young children and nothing more. This perplexes me. If adults would look carefully at picture books, they would find so much going on beneath the surface.
So that’s my little challenge to you. This week visit a beautiful bookshop and choose yourself a picture. And then read it; drink in the richness of the illustrations, take in the sub-text, but most of all, enjoy it.