Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: Reading Visual Narratives

This is an excerpt from my review in Linguistics and Education about Reading Visual Narratives. This is an excellent resource for understanding how picturebooks work from a multimodal perspective:
          The book, Reading Visual Narratives: Image Analysis of Children’s Picture Books offers educators and visual theorists a detailed analysis of the visual-verbal relations in children’s picturebooks. Aligned with systemic functional linguistics (Halliday, 1975, 1978), this volume adapts the theories of visual grammar first proposed by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996) to focus attention on the verbal and visual narratives in contemporary children’s picturebooks. By doing so, the authors have presented a comprehensive analytical framework for considering the multimodal aspects of picturebooks and serves as a valuable resource for researchers and educators to approach multimodal ensembles, in particular contemporary picturebooks, with a more enlightened eye (Eisner, 1998).
          This book is an extension of the frameworks and techniques associated with multimodal discourse analysis (Baldry & Thibault, 2006; Machin, 2007; O'Halloran, 2004; Royce & Bowcher, 2007). Developing new analytical tools to address multimodal ensembles and other complex visual and verbal narratives is a necessary component in moving the field of multimodal discourse analysis forward. Drawing on the original three metafunctions of language proposed by Halliday (1975, 1978), namely: 1) ideational, 2) interpersonal, and 3) textual, many working in this area have adapted these concepts for analyzing written and spoken discourse to consider and explore visual images and multimodal ensembles. In the continued trajectory of other studies and monographs involving social semiotic analyses of images and visual phenomena based on systemic functional linguistics (Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996; O'Toole, 1994; Rose, 2001; van Leeuwen & Jewitt, 2001), this volume provides a detailed framework for considering the visual choices and the meaning potentials available in contemporary picturebooks.