Friday, January 13, 2017

Picture Books for Grown-Ups

On Wednesday, I gave my creative writing students an overview of writing picture books for children. That's when a couple things dawned on me.

1) Many students may have absolutely no interest in writing a book for young children.


2) That's perfectly okay, because there are actually a few wildly successful picture books that are aimed at adults.

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The most notable one that I'm aware of is written by Adam Mansbach (author of some rather serious looking novels such as Rage is Back and Angry Black White Boy).

The book is called Go the F*** to Sleep. It's currently the #1 Parody book selling on Amazon, and I believe it's been in that spot for over five years now.

Keeping in mind there's profanity on every page, you might find this YouTube video amusing. It's narrated by the one and only Samuel L. Jackson...

Other successful picture books for grown-ups include: 


Jory John is one of the co-authors of both books, and it is interesting to note that after his success with these parodies he went on to write other books that are actually for children. 

So, grown-up picture books offer plenty of satire. Sometimes it's political... 

Sometimes it's catering to recent pop-culture trends, such as the zombie craze when Walking Dead was first popular. 

But there are many sophisticated picture books that are more sincere, and that aren't exactly written for adults or children, but for readers of any age. 

Take for example this beautifully illustrated biographic picture book about the life of John Lennon. 

First graders might enjoy reading about everyone's favorite bespectacled Beatle... but I have a feeling that this book targets readers my age, maybe even older (yes, I have a copy on this book). 

And although you could read this book to toddlers, it's really a metaphor about the history of religion and all of the conflicts created by the different interpretations of truth and/or god. (Unless I misread the text and it's just about a turtle and a meteorite that breaks apart in the earth's atmosphere.)

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Have you discovered a picture book that is marketed to adults? What did you think? Disturbing? Funny? Sophisticated? All of the above?  


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