chapter  5
11 Pages

Picturebooks at play

These are my shoes. Do I put them on like this? (From How Do I Put it On? by Shigeo Watanabe and Yasuo Ohtomo)

Introduction In the last chapter I argued that the composite nature of the picturebook predisposes it towards openness and flexibility. Unlike the relatively fixed and stable genres of fiction, it constantly evolves through its assimilation of the images, discourses and text types generated outside it. However, the existence of a predisposition towards freedom does not necessarily mean that in each and every case that freedom must be exercised. Picturebook makers could, if they wished, choose to mirror as closely as possible those genres and text types that have proved to be durable and popular, suppressing the form's potential for double orientation. Some writers and illustrators of picturebooks follow precisely this route, but the fact that many others do not, that the garden of the picturebook is a riot of strange hybrids and glorious mutations, still requires some explanation. A formal account of the picturebook is not enough and we must do more by way of exploring the cultural context within which the picturebook flourishes in order to arrive at a fuller understanding of its nature.