12 de novembro de 2011

Make Way for Stories: There’s a good reason why people are passing up picture books

Anita Silvey escreveu:

«Last October the New York Times featured an article by Julie Bosman, “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children,” which outlined the fate of most new picture books: they tend to “die a sad little death” on booksellers’ shelves as more parents abandon them and push their preschoolers to read chapter books. As someone tackling publishing issues from the outside, Bosman missed the mark a few times, sometimes misrepresenting those she interviewed. Not surprisingly, industry insiders responded in droves, writing articles and sending emails, defending the picture book and its important place in children’s reading development. The most charming response arrived on April 13, 2011, when the Times received a scroll created by students from Birch Lane Elementary School, in Davis, CA, proclaiming their love of picture books: 60 kids devoted an entire month to the form and read 4,590 of them!

I must admit, I’ve grown quite weary over the last few years of the all-too-predictable response from adults who champion children’s and teen books: attack anyone who makes critical comments about them. They tend to “kill the messenger”—rather than looking at the mess. All too often the writer of a critical piece is labeled a charlatan, even if what is said is basically true.

The basic premise of the New York Times article—that new picture books are increasingly ignored in today’s marketplace—seems completely sound to me. During the 1990s and into the 21st century, picture books brought in about 33 to 35 percent of the revenue of any major publishing house’s list. As Houghton Mifflin’s publisher in the late ’90s, I observed years when picture books made up more than 40 percent of sales. But today that number has slipped to a mere 10 to 11 percent for most publishers. As articles like “Top 20 Picture Book Agents,” in the August 2010 issue of Publishers Marketplace, reveal, only a few picture books are being placed with publishers. As a result, authors and illustrators dedicated to providing quality content in this area have faced financial worries—with some even questioning whether they can afford to go on. These are hard times for picture books, and they have been for a few years.

But why? …» e continua.

Anita Silvey faz algumas afirmações absolutamente discutíveis, como «In the United States we’ve developed a concept for these books that relies on the subtle interplay between text and art» pois esse conceito de picturebook não só existe nos Estados Unidos como em muitos outros países, incluindo Portugal, mas de qualquer das formas é um ponto de vista que merece ser lido até ao fim.

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