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.

part Part I|94 pages

Challenging and controversial picturebooks

chapter 2|16 pages

The Scandal Of The Commonplace

The strangeness of best-selling picturebooks
ByPerry Nodelman

chapter 3|22 pages

From Traditional Tales, Fairy Stories, and Cautionary Tales to Controversial Visual Texts

Do we need to be fearful?
BySandra L. Beckett

chapter 4|24 pages

Who are these Picturebooks for?

Controversial picturebooks and the question of audience
ByÅse Marie Ommundsen

part Part II|84 pages

Controversy and ambiguity in the art of the visual

chapter 5|24 pages

Fusion Texts – The New Kid on the Block

What are they and where have they come from?
ByJanet Evans

chapter 6|23 pages

‘These Books Made Me Really Curious'

How visual explorations shape the young readers' taste
ByMarnie Campagnaro

chapter 7|16 pages

Beware of the Fox!

Emotion and deception in Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks
ByBettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, Jörg Meibauer

chapter 8|19 pages

Fear And Strangeness In Picturebooks

Fractured fairy tales, graphic knowledge, and teachers' concerns
ByElizabeth Marshall

part Part III|82 pages

Creative, critical and philosophical responses to challenging picturebooks

chapter 9|20 pages

What's Real and What's Not

Playing with the mind in wordless picturebooks
BySandie Mourão

chapter 10|24 pages

Who'S Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

Children's responses to the portrayal of wolves in picturebooks
ByKerenza Ghosh

chapter 11|18 pages

Filling The Gaps

Exploring the writerly metaphors in Shaun Tan's The Red Tree
BySylvia Pantaleo

chapter 12|18 pages

Could This Happen to us?

Children's critical responses to issues of migration in picturebooks
ByJanet Evans

part Part IV|24 pages

Thoughts from a children's book publisher

chapter 13|22 pages

The Legendary Klaus Flugge

Controversial picturebooks and their place in contemporary society
ByKlaus Flugge, Janet Evans