Monday, 11 December 2017

Giving It A Twist, by Pippa Goodhart

In my new picture book, Chapatti Moon, illustrated by Lizzie Finlay, I did something that writers get told not to do.  I added a design note to say, 'Could the next spread involve twisting the book to see the illustration in portrait rather than landscape/'  Why did I want that?  Because the story involved the runaway chapatti being kicked up into the sky by a donkey, and I wanted the audience's eyes to look up in the same way as Mrs Kapoor does.  So we go from - ...

I'm not the first to have used that trick in a picture book by any means, and that thought set me looking for other examples.

This Is Not A Book by Jean Jullien uses the fold half way down the book on portrait to brilliant advantage, turning the book into a chair -

Or a computer -

Other books use that format with different purpose.  Emily Gravett's The Rabbit Problem makes the whole book a calendar which could be hung just like a real one -

And, another of my favourite picture books, Tadpole's Promise, written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross, uses that horizontal gutter as the divide between water and air.

The problem with that idea is that the story action happens very much at the meeting place between those two elements, and so the main point of interest is sometimes a bit lost in the fold.  

Do you know of other examples that use this book orientation to a particular purpose?  Or can you think of one that might work well in a book?


  1. Hi Pippa,

    there is 'Alfie gets home first' by Shirley Hughes where the gutter is used as a dividing wall between outside and in when Alfie locks his mum out- not a 'twist' as such but a clever use of the gutter

  2. I love that book, Lucy! And you're right that the use of the gutter as the house wall dividing inside from outside works beautifully to allow us, the book audience, to see both at once.

  3. I like your examples, Pippa, and I've just noticed that the Eiffel Tower seems to encourage vertical pages. 'Tiger in a Tutu' (Fabi Santiago, 2016) emphasises the height of the Eiffel Tower with a vertical double page so we can see both the tiger balanced on top of the tower and the child at the base. Whilst 'A Lion in Paris' (Beatrice Alemagna, 2014) also includes the Eiffel Tower (and another feline!) but in this case the entire hardback book opens with the gutter being horizontal, rather than vertical, which I found makes reading rather cumbersome, but the mixed media images are a delight.

  4. You're right, Paeony, that the gutter can cause problems, and simply holding and turning pages in a book held that way around can be tricky. But, yes, a tower NEEDS to be given that height! Thanks for those examples.