By William Moebius

About William Moebius

William Moebius is Professor and Program Director of Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His publications include poetry in Elegies and Odes and elsewhere, translations of Philodemus (Greek Anthology), of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, and book chapters in French and English on the picture book.

Picture Book

No keyword in children’s literature could be quite as fluid in its application as the one word “picturebook” or the two-word “picture book.” The cultural medium to which this locution refers is itself quite malleable and can be stretched to include: nonprint pictorial media for children or adults on the internet; picture-book “format” or, following the German cognate, Bilderbuch, “a type of visual encyclopedia”; humorous simulacra for adults such as the recent Goodnight Bush (Origen and Golan 2008); or the once risqué Home Sweet Zoo (Barnes 1950). Or it can simply be a book with pictures in it; Henry James in 1900 called his illustrated travel book A Little Tour in France a “picture-book,” a hyphenated form recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and defined as “a book consisting wholly or partly of pictures, esp. for children.”

Linking the words “picture” and “book,” after Bilderbuch, …

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