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What are some examples of picture books with depth/story layers?

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What are some examples of recent picture books with depth/story layers?
#1 - July 02, 2013, 01:16 PM

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Pick up almost any picture book and you will see a demonstration of layering. For instance, a picture book usually has a topic and a theme. The topic is what it's about on its surface--trucks or ballerinas or ducklings--and the theme is the underlying emotional truth, like friendship or fitting in, something to which a child can relate. In my recent book, the story isn't just about a store where you buy monsters, it's ultimately about sibling rivalry...and learning to cooperate in the end.
#2 - July 03, 2013, 08:43 PM
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I like to think of the layers in the picture book as simply the different 'takeaway' readers will get from it. For example, Salina Yoon's Penguin and Pinecone (I'm using that as an example because it's a book I love, obviously, but also because via Ms. Yoon I happen to know of several different responses to the book!).

Some people read it as being about how friendship can survive over long distances, others took it to about loving someone like family even though they're not (adoption), others read it as being about caring for others, looking after them... and me? For me it about being far away from people and missing them but knowing that you're still in their hearts/minds but also that not everyone is happy living in the same one place in the world (Pinecone can't survive/be happy where Penguin lives; Penguin can't live where Pinecone lives). It was a kind of environmental takeaway...   

I'm sure the same is true of many other picture books - so if you can read them and see what different messages people might take away from them, those are the layers. 
#3 - July 04, 2013, 08:07 AM
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 08:10 AM by Franzilla »

Personally, I find some of the most layered Picture books to be the most divisive because the action is open to interpretation.

GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein
I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
RAINBOW FISH by Marcus Pfister

For me, 1/2 the fun of reading those books is seeing people's comments on it.
#4 - June 23, 2014, 03:10 PM

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There are also books where the illustrations add another story to the story - there can be an element that appears in each picture but is never mentioned in the text. These occur in books from Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry to Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming.
#5 - June 30, 2014, 08:51 AM
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You can look up books that have multiple perspectives. A few examples are:
Black and White by David Macauley
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
The arrival by Shaun Tan
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne
As perspectives intersect, the story acquires richness and layers. Hope this helps!
#6 - July 06, 2014, 06:17 PM

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Assuming that by "depth" you mean that a picture book has a serious point, and that by "story layers" you mean that a picture book has interrelated multiple narratives, a few recent books that come to mind include:

Grandma's Gift, Eric Velasquez (2010)
Zayde Comes to Live, Sheri Cooper Sinykin (2012)
Sophie's Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller (2013)
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Kevin Henkes (1996) (older, but an excellent portrayal of a child's emotional landscape)
Shi-shi-etko, Nicola I. Campbell (2005) (also older, but remarkable for how the author communicates a very difficult historical context)

Story Layers:
One Cool Friend, Toni Buzzeo (2012)
Lost and Found, Bill Harley (2012)
Mr. Wuffles! David Weisner (2013)
The Long, Long Line, Tomoko Ohmura (2011)

Hope that helps!
#7 - July 07, 2014, 03:28 AM

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Saltypie by Tim Tingle
Pink and Say by P Polacco
Riding the Tiger by Eve Bunting
Smoky Night
Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree by William Miller
there are hundreds!
#8 - July 08, 2014, 05:02 PM


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