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Συντάχθηκε απο τον/την Sandra L. Becket   
Πέμπτη, 07 Ιανουάριος 2016 12:29

Common Ground for Children and Adults: Picturebooks for Philosophers of All Ages

Sandra L. Beckett
Brock University



Many authors and illustrators are providing common ground for children and adults in “children’s books” that deal with complex philosophical subjects. “Stories that Address the Big Questions” in crossover fiction was the subject of a paper I gave at an international congress organized by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon in 2009. However, many crossover picturebooks, even those suitable for very young children, also deal with the big questions.  The first picturebook to come to mind is undoubtedly Wolf Erlbruch’s appositely titled La grande question (English trans., The Big Question, 2003), in which twenty-one different characters answer, from their particular perspective, the ultimate existential question concerning the meaning of life.  This Bologna Ragazzi Award-winning picturebook targeted a crossover audience from its inception, as it was published by Christian Bruel’s innovative publishing house Éditions Être, with the assistance of the Conseil Général du Val-de-Marne, as the annual gift to children born in that department in 2004; as a gift for newborns, it obviously addressed their parents as well. Young and old alike are called upon to answer the metaphysical question. The entirely blank doublespread that follows the last answer, given by the mother, provides a meditative space in which readers can reflect on their own answer to the big question. A subsequent page is also blank except for the narrator-author’s words encouraging readers to return to the question as they grow up. This is followed by two pages in the standard Seyès ruling of all French school notebook paper, where readers are intended to record and date their personal answers to the “Big Question” over time. Picturebook artists such as Erlbruch emphasize the continuum between children’s and adults’ life experiences and philosophical concerns.

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