Picturebook Analysis

Superior Essays
Picturebook Analysis

The book’s title is “a combination of a name and an epithet or appellation” (Nikolajeva & Scott, 2006, p.242). The reader can expect that the protagonist is a boy. “Incredible” and “book eating” further reveal the theme of the story; the word “incredible” implies an evaluation of the main character, which may disclose the opinion and focus of the narrator. The cover also foreshadows what the story may be about. Each word is represented in different fonts and sizes on the cover (2007 edition): “incredible” forms an arch in eye-catching red; “book”, which is a collage of pages from books and notebooks, seems to be slightly bigger than the other words; “boy” is painted in warm orange tones identical to Henry’s hoodie and
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He ascertains that “Sometimes the pictures can inform the words rather than the other way around. Often it’s easier for me to not say something in words. I show it rather than say it” (cited in Sainsbury & Styles, 2012, p.100). Entering the book, the reader may immediately become aware of his sensitivity to word-image interplay. It is hard to neglect the warmth and the organic feel of the book with its predominantly beige or brown backgrounds and his sketches which are in pastel tones of orange, red and brown. Jeffers contrasts a variety of rough textures with the flat digital colours of the shadows of characters, which distinguish them from the backgrounds. His drawing is relatively simple; Henry is a round-headed boy with stick legs drawn in a quick cartoon style. However, the illustrations of Henry are still effective in showing Henry’s emotions. His mouth is “the most salient trait” that shows what he might be thinking either by disappearing or having upturned and downturned corners (Nikolajeva, 2013, p.251). The expression of his eyebrows reveals his puzzlement and uneasiness when he starts to get information mixed up. The tones and emotions of the book are also represented by framing; unlike the majority of the spreads, the double spreads (figures 1 & 2) where Henry is told to stop eating books are clearly framed, and the verbal texts are also presented in the frame. …show more content…
To begin the story, the narrator uses “direct address to the reader”: the narrator exposes itself and refers to itself as “I”, which reveals the story as a construction (Nikolajeva & Scott, 2006, p.221). Later, when Henry gives up eating books and becomes upset, the narrator asks the direct question to the reader: “What was he to do?”. This creates intimacy between the narrator and the reader and draws the reader in more. One of the most significant devices is Jeffers’ “pastiche of illustrative styles” (Anstey, 2009, p.34). Collage is evident in places as Jeffers draws on a wide range of recycled background materials, including covers, spines, and endpapers from books; lined paper, squared paper and graph paper in notebooks; index cards and pages from dictionaries, atlases; and even maths books. Through the technique of collage, these materials not only “draw attention to themselves for what they are”, but also require the reader to “see them as part of the composition” (Doonan, 1993, p.82). Many of them are tattered, yellowed, torn, or flyblown. Placing them within the story, Jeffers creates subtle connections and composes new meanings. He turns the cover of an encyclopaedia into a theatre stage, and the school blackboard comes from the cover of a book published by “Board of Education”. A page from a dictionary becomes wallpaper (figure 4) and humorously contains the words “intellectuality”, “intelligence”, and

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