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Portal Picture books?!!

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Hi everyone,  a friend of mine is doing an essay about picture books that have portals to other worlds. . .we thought of the obvious one - Where the Wild Things Are - but do you have any other suggestions?  (Like The Magic Tree House but picture books, not chapter books).

Thanks -
#1 - January 28, 2013, 12:58 PM
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ZATHURA and JUMANJI.
#2 - January 28, 2013, 01:22 PM

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I was cross-posting with Anthony--I was going to say Zathura too!

Interesting, I never thought of Where the Wild Things Are as a portal book because to my mind Max was taking flight in the wilds of his imagination and not in a "real" world. Thoughts?
#3 - January 28, 2013, 01:28 PM

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Interesting, Hilary!! To me it's one of those nobody knows if it was all in his mind or not sort of books...but whether or not it was real or imagined, I'd still say it fits as a portal book.
#4 - January 28, 2013, 01:32 PM
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I was cross-posting with Anthony--I was going to say Zathura too!

Interesting, I never thought of Where the Wild Things Are as a portal book because to my mind Max was taking flight in the wilds of his imagination and not in a "real" world. Thoughts?

I think WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE could go either way, but I was going to say the same thing about JUMANJI not really being a portal book. I think the definition of a "portal" story is that the characters go through a portal to another world - whereas with JUMANJI, playing the game kind of opens up a portal to bring all the animals and everything into the real world of the characters.
#5 - January 28, 2013, 01:51 PM

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The Night Garden by Elise Hurst might fit - her garden transforms in the night, returning to normal by the next morning.
#6 - January 28, 2013, 02:11 PM
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Thanks, all. When I get home from work I'm going to have to peruse my bookshelves as I'm drawing a blank. There are a lot of pb's about the imagination but I can't think of so many where a kid is transported to a different world.
#7 - January 28, 2013, 02:14 PM
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I also think that Jumanji and Zathura are for middle grade kids (teachers and reluctant boy readers). 


WTWTA is not a portal book. Max is not going thru a door into another newly created world. He is going into his own real world imagination which is an extention of his reality and anger. He made it himself.
#8 - January 28, 2013, 02:15 PM
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The Polar Express?
#9 - January 28, 2013, 02:16 PM
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I think WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE could go either way, but I was going to say the same thing about JUMANJI not really being a portal book. I think the definition of a "portal" story is that the characters go through a portal to another world - whereas with JUMANJI, playing the game kind of opens up a portal to bring all the animals and everything into the real world of the characters.

I guess it depends on exactly what you're looking for. There is a portal, and characters move between worlds. They're just moving towards our world rather than away from it.

Also, I was thinking the same thing as Hilary - I never thought of Where the Wild Things Are as involving a portal.
#10 - January 28, 2013, 02:18 PM

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I think I agree, if one is going by the strict definition of portal. In which case, I wonder if there are any "true" portal picture books? I'll have to ask my local children's librarian the next time I'm there. . .
#11 - January 28, 2013, 02:20 PM
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I think I agree, if one is going by the strict definition of portal. In which case, I wonder if there are any "true" portal picture books?

Now I'm wondering the same thing! This is a very interesting topic. I think I'll ask our town's super duper smart children's librarian too!
#12 - January 28, 2013, 05:10 PM

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Please let us know if you find one because I cannot seem to find one that fits the bill although I just googled up a bunch of picture book lists. . .

Thanks, Lisa
#13 - January 28, 2013, 07:27 PM
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um...I wanna say Michael Garland's, Miss Smith books? Miss Smith, the new teacher, has an incredible storybook that is, well, incredible. When Miss Smith reads from it, it brings the characters to life, literally, through the pages of the book! Sometimes the classroom is transformed, or the whole class is transported into different places via the book. Nothing returns to normal until the story being read is finished. Everything goes back into the book. Not sure if the "incredible storybook" is a true portal per say.. :shrug: Yea, this is a very interesting topic. True portal or not, I love these kinds of books that take me away.
#14 - January 28, 2013, 08:36 PM

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Following this line of thought, what about "The Magic School Bus" books? Kids are transported out of their world and into another, even in the human body book. The school bus goes somewhere the average person can't go.
#15 - January 28, 2013, 09:30 PM
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I wonder if two of my PBs fit your definition of portal books - LIGHT UP THE NIGHT and TIME OUT FOR MONSTERS. Like Max in WILD THINGS the portal is accessed through the child's imagination.
Fascinating thread.
Jean
#16 - January 29, 2013, 06:50 AM
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I can't say that I would write off Where The Wild Things Are. A definition I just read says that in a true portal book, the character moves between two worlds; has an adventure or experience in the new world, and then returns to his/her original world which is unchanged. The character, of course, has changed in some way by what they learned while resolving a conflict through some experience in the new world.

WTWTA certainly fits that criteria.
#17 - January 29, 2013, 09:41 PM
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That's an interesting point. . .who gets to define what a portal is, anyway?! ::-)
#18 - January 30, 2013, 06:03 AM
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Interesting! As long as you define clearly the portal to include the child's imagination, I don't see a problem. Most of the titles that come to mind are MG/YA (and adult time travel). Sorry, I'm no help.

Vijaya
#19 - January 30, 2013, 01:21 PM
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Elisa--good question, lol. I just typed "picture book portal" into my browser and read some of the listed links, which is where I found the definition that I've shared here.  But Vijaya has an excellent point, since most books with portals use a particular object that ports the mc into the other world. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe it was a cupboard; in the Harry Potter books there were a number of portals but each was always clearly identified. In the fantasy YA I'm revising the first portal is a fireplace.

So a book in which the character simply imagines themselves transported elsewhere would not truly be a portal book.
#20 - January 30, 2013, 08:18 PM
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Also, just as an aside, I have always hated when the whole thing was a dream.

Polar Express is a good PB example. Very satisfying too.
Vijaya
#21 - January 31, 2013, 06:26 AM
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I was going to suggest Bob's pick: The Magic Schoolbus. Also, I'm sure Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass has been adapted into a picture book more than once.
#22 - February 07, 2013, 01:19 PM

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I'm not sure I would count "Through the Looking-Glass" in the portal category since Alice falls asleep under the tree and wakes up later--where it's all been a dream. Although this may well be the only book I like where all the action took place in a dream.
#23 - February 07, 2013, 09:06 PM
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Hi Bobi, I thought  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the one where she fell asleep under the tree and in Through the Looking Glass Alice returns to Wonderland by going through a mirror.

But your right, both stories end with her awakening where the story begins, I think. Now I'm going to have to go back to them.
#24 - February 09, 2013, 08:35 PM

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It's been a long time, Jerry, but I thought she fell asleep under the tree for both. But she does awake from a dream for both stories. In fact, I believe that at the end of Looking Glass, she has a discussion with her kitten as to whether she herself had the dream or if the dream belonged to the Red(?) King.

So neither book is a portal book. On an interesting side note, one of my second graders was telling me about a book yesterday and talking about how the character "goes through the portal to the other world"!! 
#25 - February 13, 2013, 08:25 PM
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Hi All - I'm the friend that Elisa posted for in January when I was writing a paper on portals in PBs.  Am now on the boards myself and can chime in.  I ended up using two wordless PBs in my essay, both by Barbara Lehman:  Rainstorm and The Red Book.  Both are true portal books by the strict definition:  in Rainstorm a boy gets to another world (or another location in his own world) through a trunk, and in The Red Book a boy and a girl can view each other through the pages of a book.

I ended up arguing that Where the Wild Things Are was a portal book.  I think you can argue that a dream or the deep imagination can be a portal of sort.  But also, in WTWTA, if you look at the pages as Max's room turns into the forest, the window and the moon are present for a couple of pages, and then just the moon is there.  It's as if the new world has come through the window into Max's room, rather than Max going through the window into it. And as my thesis was that characters are changed by their portal experience, that they come back with new knowledge or new self-awareness, WTWTA fit the bill enough.

Thanks for everyone's thoughtful ideas and suggestions.
#26 - March 03, 2013, 06:28 PM

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