Making and breaking frames: crossing the borders of expectation in picturebooks

Vivienne Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Picture book makers have always used frames to help their readers see. Frames around illustrations have traditionally selected and isolated images, separated them from white space, and confined flights of fancy to inside the covers of the book. Words have framed mindsets and directed thinking, so that images might be positioned in particular ways in a reader's imagination. Accommodating frames is so naturally a part of reading that we hardly notice ourselves doing it at all. However, a number of picture book makers have begun to use frames explicitly and obtrusively in their work to make sure that we do notice. What is the effect of this jarring the way we make meaning? This chapter considers the framing devices employed in two contemporary picture books: Emily Gravett's Little Mouse's Book of Fears and Weisner's Flotsam. Further, It describes how these books were read by two competent 10 year old readers, and asks how well prepared they were for the challenges that postmodern texts such as these afford.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTalking Beyond the Page
Subtitle of host publicationReading and Responding to Picture Books
EditorsJanet Evans
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2009


  • picturebooks
  • children’s responses
  • expectation
  • reading

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