children's books, illustration
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Illustration, adding levels of meaning.

three children waving a white flag from top of sand dune|'Beach Pirates' book cover illustration

I think a common thread with illustration – is a focus on, or intent to communicate beyond the literal – to add levels of meaning.

If an illustration is more than a mirror of what is already in the text – it can work on a visual level to clarify an idea, and add to a story without changing it. Indeed, a series of illustrations may develop a subtext within a story.

three children waving a white flag from top of sand dune|'Beach Pirates' book cover illustration

When illustrating Beach Pirates’ written by Janeen Brian – I used binocular vignettes (at the bottom of text pages) to explore the subtext of watching, of observation. When I first read the story, I found myself asking the question: who is watching the children, while they are watching out for beach pirates?

I won’t issue a spoiler alert then give the game away – because you just may come across this Australian picture book in a local library or school class room and figure out the answer for yourself.

view through binoculars of girl waving|'Beach Pirates' book illustration ©Annmarie Scott 2016

Layers of meaning, either within a picture book text or within the illustrations, offer the reader a varied and rich experience – one they may return to and relate to in different ways at different times, with growing levels of understanding.

©Annmarie Scott 2016

Do you like your stories with neatly tied endings? Or do you like a book left open to interpretation? Share your thoughts in comments.

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