Marvellous Imaginations: Extending Thinking Through Picture Books
Our issue of IBBYLink continues with the theme as Anna McQuinn explores with us what she wanted to achieve in publishing What Are You Playing At?, a picture book aimed at the youngest readers, which uses the illustrations to challenge received opinions and beliefs in both the children and the adults.
For many of us, the term ‘picture book’ will probably conjure up something where the text and the pictures will mirror each other – or, as in the best picture books, extend or even comment on each other. The reader is the audience.
However there are picture books where the reader is very much invited into the illustrations, which will be full of life and busyness. This is a genre that has its own name – they are wimmelbücher, wimmelbooks. Elys Dolan, herself an illustrator, introduces us to this particular form when she describes the research she has been conducting into these books and how they achieve their effects.
And story, storytelling, is indeed powerful, no more so than when combined with visual images. It creates a valuable means to engage young readers, bridging divides, and opening young minds to other lives and other possibilities, allowing them to empathise. No one would argue with this. However, as Helen Limon’s thought-provoking article suggests, this might not be the whole story.
Then another aspect is highlighted in the work done by Jane Ray for The Nightingale Project, which is on display at the South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre. Marvellous – and perilous – imaginations, indeed.