The metafictive in picture books : a theoretical analysis of the nature and origins of contemporary children's picture books, with case studies of children reading picture book texts
The thesis is about picture books and how children read them, and is divided into three parts. In part one I identify a striking parallel between certain exemplary contemporary picture books and the tendency within adult fiction known as postmodernism or metafiction. I enlarge upon this analogy and attempt to establish a tentative taxonomy of metafictive picture books. Part one concludes with an account of an early attempt at exploring how young children read such texts, and with the establishing of the core questions of the thesis: i.e. what is the relation of the metafictive picture book to the form in general?; why is such a highly self-conscious, reflexive form of text found in picture books for young children?; and how do young children read such books? In part two I begin by reviewing the available literature on picture books and then attempt to construct a theory of picture book text. These core theoretical chapters (chapters five, six and seven) are concerned with the nature of pictorial representations and how readers read them; with a revisionist account of the historical origins of the picture book; and with the developing of a view of the picture book as a distinctivelypolysysiemic form of text - i.e. a form of text closely akin to the novel. An attempt is then made to answer the first two of the three main questions. The final part of the thesis explores, through a number of case studies, how young children might construe metafictive texts and traces some of the different ways in which they attempt to make sense of them.