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Monday, March 8, 2010

March: Reading Illustrated Books













We posted about the illustrations from Leviathan earlier today. Author Scott Westerfeld asks, "How is reading an illustrated book different from reading one without pictures?"


14 comments:

Misty said...

When I am reading a book I always go back to the front page to look at the cover image. It contains secrets; the main character's features, hints and references to parts of the story that you only notice when you have read a particular piece of the story.

It is the same with illustration within a book. They hold clues and secrets to the story. They support the text and give the reader something else to take in.

Priya said...

In this case, I think the illustrations really added to the story and helped me understand some of the concepts better. For example, I had trouble imagining Leviathan before I saw its picture.

Little Willow said...

The first line of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

I've always enjoyed this book and related to the main character. However, even when I was a kid, I would cite this as one big difference between Alice and moi: I found books to be quite useful even without pictures, and had no problem digesting long classics without pictures. ;-)

Unless it employs abstract illustrations, an illustrated book tends to solidify the looks of the characters, making them look the same in the minds of all readers, while a picture-free book allows for more variations due to imagination.

Another quote from Alice:

(If you don't know what a Gryphon is, look at the picture.)

Instead of detailing the appearance of the Gryphon, the author relies upon the illustration to inform the reader.

It is of note that Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) illustrated the original manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, before it was updated with John Tenniel's equally beautiful and iconic illustrations, as seen in the first official - and now classic - published version.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

It slows my reading, I suppose, as I stop to read the illustrations. Scott's were brilliantly illustrated. Wow!

Sometimes I feel a short disconnect when I see the image doesn't match my own, and it takes a moment to realign.

I totally ignore poor illustrations. Ha!

Dia Calhoun said...

I adore well illustrated books. There is such a richness to them. Perhaps this goes back to childhood days, when each time I opened a book it was a moment full of anticipation, a new world entered. And the illustration enhanced that new world and made it not only a rich reading experience but a rich visual experience as well. I love the illustrations by Graham Rust in A Little Princess.

Scott said...

A lot of Leviathan readers who've written to me describe a sort of complicated dance between text and images. They start by reading, then, noticing an illustration coming up, they jump ahead and "cheat" a bit. Then they go back and read again, anticipating the illustration's arrival.

Some readers talk about reading to the next illustration, like it's an easter egg or a good-behavior cookie, or just an excuse to stay up a little later.

There's something really unique about how books allow you to change the pace of narrative, in a way that movies, TV, and even music don't. And images are a part of that practice, because you can always peak ahead . . .

Monster of the Midwest said...

As an Illustrator, my opinion is biased. Although, I will say a book can make the illustration, but an illustration can't make the book. Also, as a hobby, I write SAT questions.

Grampa Joe said...

Illustrations in fiction can serve to reinforce atmosphere or mood. They're like seasoning: when done well, they bring out the flavor of the story.

As demonstrated with the Lewis Caroll's Gryphon in Little Willow's comment, illustrations can also show the reader things they haven't seen before.

The images provided by the illustrations in Leviathan enhanced the images forming in my mind as I read. Rather than replace my imagination, they directed it towards what I assume was the author's intended imagery and allowed me to imagine virtually indescribable things.

Hoolie said...

My earliest memories of reading are inextricably intertwined with illustrations -- books like My Father's Dragon, with its strange and wonderful images of things like a lion with its mane in a dozen pigtails and bows, or D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, or the beautiful color plates in The Wind in the Willows. This is such an interesting question that I'm going be noodling around with it for a while, I can tell, but I think for me that initial connection of words with vibrant pictures -- all in different visual styles -- actually helped infuse the words with that vibrancy. I think it created a funny little kind of synesthesia where I actually associated the words with those colors and the feelings they evoked. I doubt it's an accident that the first paragraph I ever memorized for the sheer joy of it was a description of Mole poking his head above ground on the first day of spring sat opposite a full-page, gorgeous color plate in The Wind in the Willows. I don't know that I have quite the same experience reading words and pictures now, but I can definitely say that those pictures were critically important in nurturing my love of words.

Melissa Walker said...

"They start by reading, then, noticing an illustration coming up, they jump ahead and "cheat" a bit. Then they go back and read again, anticipating the illustration's arrival."

--I SO do this, definitely!

silu said...

I am reading a blog comment.the main characters...........Blog spot.com

Cara Mengobati Kencing Nanah said...
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Setia Adi said...
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Abdul Munif Habiby said...
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