Pop up books explained

I really enjoyed this article:

Lisa Boggiss Boyce (2011) ‘Pop Into My Place: An Exploration of the Narrative and Physical Space in Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House‘ Children’s Literature in Education 42: 243-255
“Abstract Discussions of children’s literature frequently neglect the pop-up. This universally popular type of book is often considered ephemeral and insubstantial, although some titles have managed to attain popularity and critical recognition, elevating the form to iconic status. One of the most acclaimed and lasting titles in contemporary pop-up books is Jan Pien´kowski’s Haunted House. Gothic themes have always been popular with pop-up book originators, especially as the form lends itself perfectly to concepts of transformation, but a close reading of this particular title is ideally suited to the investigation of place and space. Everything is carefully designed to draw the reader in. The familiar experience of arriving in a strange house is a concept even the youngest child can relate to, while the text poses questions and, even in its title, establishes the potential for surprise. Each turn of the page delivers this as each pop-up unfolds and demands reaction from the reader, linking narrative place and space with actual three dimensional place and space. Using Pienkowski’s Haunted House as a focus, this article argues for a revaluation of the pop-up form.” (p.243)

She explains her approach to analysing pop-ups really nicely – and argues strongly for such criticism…. Some other interesting points and quotes:

“According to Judith Graham (1990, p. 45), ‘‘Young readers who learn how to absorb the impact of an illustrator’s scene setting will be in a stronger position later to bring meaning to words an author uses to set the stage.’’” (p.244)

“If, as Judith Graham says in her book Pictures on the Page, ‘‘the needs of the reader [are] to be surprised, to discover, to absorb atmosphere, to detect secondary stories [and] to confirm or modify early surmises,’’ then Haunted House has it all (Graham, 1990, p. 78).” (p.246)

In a very small empirical study of pop-ups in Amsterdam, research was carried out using the books of Ron van der Meer (Avella, 2006, p. 108), which concluded that a reader retains 75% of all the information in a pop-up book compared with 20% retained reading traditional formats. Contributory factors appear to be the following: the fact that the book is read three times, once for the words and illustrations, again to experiment with the mechanisms and then once again to experience these elements in combination. Also, the fact that more senses than just reading are used. If we accept that knowledge of the ending does not make a good story redundant, that children can enjoy texts from early picture books to fairy tales over and over again, then why shouldn’t this be the case for pop-up books as well? Of course, clever mechanisms alone will not make a good pop-up book. Excellence of narrative and illustration along with technically ingenious paper-engineering, the quality of the used spaces, the spaces between, and the spaces transformed, are what is needed to produce a truly wonderful pop-up book, as Haunted House proves.” (p.254)

[Reference is to: Graham, Judith. (1990). Pictures on the Page. Sheffield: The National Association for the Teaching of English.]

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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