Metafiction In Children’s Literature

Poetry, unlike music, is a meta-art, and relies upon non-physical structures for the production of its effects. In its case, the medium is syntax, grammar and logical continuity, which together form the carrier-wave of plain sense within which its deeper meanings are broadcast.

– Don Paterson, The empty image: new models of the poetic trope (Is it possible that all children’s verse is a meta-art, simply because the language draws attention to itself?)

What about a pop-up book, in which the card moves, drawing the reader’s attention to the workings of the book? Is it possible to read a pop-up book and be so immersed in the story that you don’t really notice the engineering of the paper?


Bridget from A Very Curious Blog points out that:

It’s harder (but not impossible) to find metafiction in intermediate and young adult fiction. Would Dianne Wynne Jone’s The Dark Lord of Derkholm count? How often do characters in a book reveal the fact that they know they are characters? And how do young readers respond to this revelation?

and also links to a video by Philip Nel called Metafiction For Children, in which we are warned not to call this trend ‘post modern’ because metafiction has been around since the early 1600s. It is also pointed out that ‘a metafictional book can also be interactive’, though I would go one step further (actually I have) and ask if not all interactive books (and therefore book apps) are metafictive precisely because interaction requires the reader be pulled out of the story and into the ‘mechanics’ of the printed book or software.

Suggestions in the comments section of the above video lead to a list More Metafiction For Children.

Metafiction In Children’s Picturebooks from What Do We Do All Day is another, overlapping list.