Interanimation = when the words and a pictures in a picturebook work together on a page to ‘interanimate’ each other.

(Margaret Meek)


  • Words can make pictures into rich narrative resources — but only because they communicate so differently from pictures that they change the meaning of pictures. For the same reason, also, pictures can change the narrative thrust of words.
  • The balance is never entirely symmetrical.
  • What the words do to the pictures is not the same as what the pictures do to the words.
  • The words in a picturebook tend to draw attention to parts of the pictures that the reader should attend to. Pictures can communicate much to us, but only if words focus them.
  • The pictures proved the words with a specificity they would otherwise lack: colour, shape and form.
  • An image can only live and have meaning as part of the picturebook when informed — or limited — by the words.
  • Good picturebooks as a whole are a richer experience than the sum of their parts.
  • There is a synergy about picturebooks that ensures that if a reader wants the whole experience, pictures and words must be taken together. This is true even when the language makes perfect sense on its own.
  • Perhaps all picturebooks exhibit the interanimation of words and pictures, but not all do it the same way.
  • There is currently a lack of terminology/concepts to describe all the different ways in which picturebooks interanimate.


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