The noise, the sound. What do I mean by the sound of a picture book?
I think I’m more questioning myself.
But really, what do I mean? Is it the noise, the volume, tone, rhythm, or dialogue when reading a picture book?
Is the sound of a picture book the interaction between the reader, the listener, and the story? There seem to be many different ways to have some kind of lively interaction.
The first obvious sound of a picture would be rhyme. A good rhyming picture book has a way of guiding the reader through the tale with it’s rhythm.
The book that immediately pops up in my mind when I think of great rhyming is There Once Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle. Through rhyme, Klostermann tells a story about a dragon who, yes, swallows a knight, and a steed, and a squire, and a few other things too. Try reading that picture book without a rhythm and a bob to your head! If you’re like me, it’s hard to do.
Hey prose can have a rhythm too! Just look at Pete the Cat; I Love My White Shoes, it has only one repeating sentence that rhymes throughout the entire book, but the rest of the story doesn’t rhyme at all. The big rhythm making sentence here is singing the song, “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes” or whatever color shoes he happens to have at the time.
While I’m thinking about non-ryhming rhythm, I can’t help but point out one page in particular of The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Nathaniel Stookey.
There is this lovely back and forth action between the names listed of the deceased composers and the word “dead,” and if you can pronounce all those names correctly, good for you because I can’t! I can still feel a rhythm here that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, and this particular page really brings out the peak of the story, the reveal of who killed the composer. Was it the strings, the brass, the woodwinds, or the percussion? You won’t know until you read!
Another sound of a picture book can be dialogue, or I’ve referred picture books written only in dialogue secretly as scripts.
Books like I Don’t Want To Be A Frog, written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt, or Thank You, Octopus , by Darren Farrell need some kind of acting involved because the reader is not just the narrator speaking for the character in the story. The reading IS the character speaking as the character. There is no narrator here that separates character and reader anymore. Now I’m not saying there is no “acting” involved in a normal picture reading during story time, it’s just when I read dialogue I think more in mind of the character.
Could just be me!
Perhaps I could go a little bit further and say that the sound of a picture book is a type of reader manipulation. A good picture book, or story in general, seems to manipulate the reader into doing what the story wants them to do, either by feeling what the story wants the reader to feel, or make the reader read the story a certain way.
Manipulation from a picture book? Sounds kind of obscure.
It’s like when I’m reading Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Every page shows the bull getting bigger and BIGGER and every page I’m reading louder and LOUDER until everything deflates and you return to normal speech, maybe even quieter as the bull main character is feeling the ashamed by how much of a bully he has been towards his friends.
I wanted to focus of these stories because they made me realize what I enjoy about the interaction of reading a story aloud.
So, what is the sound of a picture book?
Eh I still don’t really know, but I think it’s the auditory interaction between story, reader, and listener.
And it was phrase I thought just sounded good at the time.